The United States is imposing new sanctions against Russian Federation.
The moves marked the first actions the United States has announced it has taken against Russian Federation in reaction to last year's massive cyber hack against USA federal agencies, known as the SolarWinds breach, and for the "bounties" it had reportedly offered in Afghanistan.
Reporting from the Washington Post indicated that Russian bounties are "believed to have resulted in the deaths of several USA service members".
The Kremlin said Thursday that sanctions would not "help" momentum for a summit and once the White House unveiled its measures, the Russian foreign ministry warned a Russian response was "inevitable".
The Biden administration is planning to announce sanctions on Russian officials as soon as Thursday, in a move that will target several individuals and entities, according to several people familiar with the matter.
"These activities are threatening and destabilizing".
Under the new authorities, the Treasury Departments released a directive prohibiting US financial institutions "from participation in the primary market for ruble or non-ruble denominated bonds issued after June 14, 2021" by Russia's Central Bank, its National Wealth Fund or the Russian Finance Ministry.
In addition, the Department of Treasury, together with the European Union, Australia, Britain and Canada, sanctioned eight individuals and entities associated with Russia's occupation of Crimea in Ukraine. Until now, President Joe Biden has focused on the coronavirus pandemic and economy in his first months in office.
President Joe Biden's broadside against Russian Federation came the same week as he offered to meet President Vladimir Putin for their first summit - a meeting USA officials say remains "vital" so that the two countries can deescalate. And the goal is to send a signal that cyberattacks will lead to retaliation, even though at the same time the administration is saying, look, we want to have a good relationship with Russian Federation.
"When he spoke to him this week", Sullivan told reporters, "he said, 'I told you that I was going to look into this, I made a determination that Russian Federation has, in fact, conducted these actions, and I'm a man of my word, I am ready to respond, but I'm not looking to escalate".
In a television interview last month, Biden replied "I do" when asked if he thought Putin was a "killer". The White House announced that summit proposal earlier this week, an a senior administration official said Thursday Biden had proposed it take place in a third nation in Europe. The announcement leaves open the possibility of expanding sovereign debt sanctions on Russian Federation.
Russian Federation summoned the US ambassador to Moscow and warned that it will respond.
Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman said Moscow would respond to the sanctions in the near future.
The Kremlin gave an initially positive response to the idea but said Thursday that sanctions would not "help".
It is unclear if these sanctions will be enough to change Russian behavior, the officials said.
"Washington should realize that it will have to pay a price for the degradation of the bilateral ties", Zakharova said, adding that "the responsibility for that will fully lie with the United States". There is an ongoing substantial buildup of Russian troops along the Ukraine border, something that's really alarming Western Europe and the U.S.
Senior Biden administration officials Thursday morning presented the sanctions against Russian Federation as both "economically impactful" but also "proportionate", "tailored" and "measured". We don't want to create a cycle of escalation here. "We intend these responses to be proportionate and tailored to the specific past activities, past actions that Russian Federation has taken. We have indicated that we seek a stable and predictable relationship going forward".
As the sanctions were announced, the United States also for the first time officially attributed the SolarWinds hack to Russian Federation. The breach compromised nine federal government agencies.
"Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) actors (also known as APT29, Cozy Bear, and The Dukes) frequently use publicly known vulnerabilities to conduct widespread scanning and exploitation against vulnerable systems in an effort to obtain authentication credentials to allow further access", an advisory from the Federal Bureau of Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency said.
The statement also called out Russia's extraterritorial "targeting" of dissidents and journalists and undermining of security in countries important to U.S. national security.
It was not immediately clear what, if any, other actions might be planned, and officials had previously said they expected to take actions both seen and unseen.
These actions will be rolled out in the form of an executive order fromBiden as well as sanctions coordinated with the State Department and the Treasury Department, the officials said.
"Russia's pattern of malign behaviour around the world - whether in cyberspace, in election interference or in the aggressive operations of their intelligence services - demonstrates that Russian Federation remains the most acute threat to the U.K.'s national and collective security", the United Kingdom government said in a statement.
Thursday's announcements also shed more light on the US intelligence community's confidence in attributing to the Kremlin certain actions that were suspected of being linked to the Russian government, but not necessarily confirmed.