The Biden administration imposed tough new sanctions on Russia to hold the country accountable for its interference in the 2020 U.S. election, cyberattacks against both federal agencies and private companies, as well as its ongoing occupation in Crimea.
The wide-ranging measures announced on Thursday, include sanctions against six Russian companies, 32 entities and individuals for interference in the 2020 election. Additional financial sanctions are aimed at limiting Russia’s borrowing power.
In a letter notifying Congress, President Biden said that he had declared “a national emergency.”
“I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by specified harmful foreign activities of the Government of the Russian Federation,” the president wrote.
President Biden announces actions against Russia: "We want a stable, predictable relationship. If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I'm prepared to take further actions to respond." pic.twitter.com/wVBbdSS81f
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 15, 2021
Biden’s executive order for the first time places blame on the Kremlin for the SolarWinds hacking attack, which targeted several federal and private entities in the U.S. In February, Microsoft President Brad Smith told CBS News that the attack was “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.”
The order also explicitly links the SVR, Russia’s top Foreign Intelligence Service, with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. The U.S. will also expel 10 Russian officials from the country, citing “inconsistent” diplomatic status. And a senior administration official told Axios that the administration is taking more steps that will “remain unseen.”
Biden spoke to President Vladimir Putin by phone on Tuesday about the coming announcement and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that the president was looking to “provide a significant and credible response, but not escalate the situation.” Sullivan added that Biden “made no bones about the fact we will be taking actions this week, but he also indicated that he wants to get to that stability in this relationship, and he believes that if President Putin is prepared to do that as well, we can find a course ahead that does not lead to a cycle of confrontation.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen released a statement signaling that the move is a different approach to Russia than the previous administration, saying. “This is the start of a new U.S. campaign against Russian malign behavior.”