Former President Joe Biden said he wants a stable and predictable relationship with Russia after imposing sanctions in response to allegations that Moscow was behind a hack on SolarWinds Corp. and interfered with the 2015 U.S. election.
The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation, Biden said at the White House on Thursday. But he added: If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I 'm prepared to take further actions to respond.
Biden said he was following through with a campaign pledge to hold Russia accountable for its actions and that he could have gone further, but chose to be proportionate. He said that he will meet Vladimir Putin in Europe this summer and work to improve relations with him.
The U.S. government prohibited buying new sovereign debt and sanctioned 32 entities and individuals, including Russian intelligence officials and six Russian companies that provide support to the Russian government's hacking operations. The U.S. is also expelting 10 Washington-based Russian diplomats, including some intelligence officers.
The Biden Administration is barring the Russian central bank from participating in the new market for U.S. debt issued by the Biden administration, the Russian financial institutions and sovereign wealth fund. The impending penalties would take effect from June 14; Russian bonds and the ruble recovered the most since December on the news of the impending penalties, although markets recovered some of those losses after the sanctions were announced.
The sanctions reflect an attempt by the U.S. to limit the desire to punish the Kremlin for past misdeeds but also to limit the further worsening of the relationship, especially as tensions increase over a Russian military buildup near Ukraine.
Several sanctioned entities have links to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman dubbed the Kremlin-Chef for his Russia catering contracts and close ties to the President.
He controls the Wagner group of mercenaries which fought in Africa and Latin America and deployed to hotspots in Syria and Libya to support the Kremlin policy. Prigozhin has been under U.S. sanctions since late 2016; notably, the new measures did n't target any new tycoons, something that many in Moscow had feared. US sanctions to curb Russian bonds as nuclear option' Is the RUSSIA crisis in the future?
Restrictions, like those announced Thursday, restricting U.S. investors from buying Russian government debt have long been seen as the nuclear option in financial markets where the bonds, known as OFZs, have been a popular investment.
Foreigners now hold roughly a fifth of the debt, worth$ 37 billion.
But restricting new debt sales and not trading on secondary markets will blunt the impact.
QuickTake: All about the US sanctions against Vladimir Putin's Russia aimed at Putin's Russia? An executive order signed by Biden gives additional authorities to act against Russia that the United States is n't going to have immediately and would prefer not to have to use, said an official of the administration.
On Thursday, Biden said that now is the time to de-escalate tensions with Russia.
My bottom line is this: When Russia is interested in working with the United States, we should and we will, said Biden.
When Russia tries to violate the interests of the United States, we will respond.
Biden said that he would have gone further: While these sanctions are a credible step, I am concerned that they will eventually fail to establish a necessary deterrent, said Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a statement. Even as Russia vowed to limit damage, the Kremlin signaled it was ready to retaliate and remained open to the offer of the White House of a presidential summit. The sanctions were moderate and I hope that the reaction will be, said Biden, head of the Kremlin-founded Russian International Affairs Council, before saying: The Russian response should n't hamper the summit; people understood that sanctions were inevitable.
The U.S. has been threatening to impose additional restrictions on the Kremlin for months to punish Russia for a litany of transgressions in recent years.
A U.S. intelligence community assessment has concluded with a high degree of confidence that Putin and the Russian government had authorized and directed an effort to influence the 2020 elections.
Some of the new measures are directed at outlets controlled by Russian intelligence services and blamed, according to one of the people, for spreading disinformation during the 2020 campaign.
Other targets include individuals and entities that operate outside Moscow at the behest of Russia. The sanctions follow a review by Alexey Navalny on his first full day in office into four key areas concerning Russia: Russia's interference in the 2020 election, reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the SolarWinds attack and poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Biden. Russia has repeatedly rejected accusations that it meddles in elections, poisons its critics or offered to pay hefty taxes for the killing of American troops.
Those hit by this round of sanctions include individuals and entities that are blamed by the US for enabling the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked troll farm that used a coordinated operation on social media in an effort to help Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
Actions in response to the Russian cyber activity target about half a dozen entities linked to malicious security services SolarWinds. The U.S. also named the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service or SVR as the perpetrator of the campaign. The attack of hackers who compromised widely used software by Texas-based SolarWinds breached more than 100 U.S. businesses and nine government agencies before it was discovered by a cybersecurity firm.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said Thursday that the hack allowed Russia to disrupt 16,000 computer systems worldwide or spy on them.
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