Britain calls out Russian Federation for 'malign' cyber attacks

Joe Biden announced sanctions on Russia on Thursday for its election meddling and cyber attacks

Joe Biden announced sanctions on Russia on Thursday for its election meddling and cyber attacks Credit BLOOMBERG

President Biden on Thursday told reporters that despite newly instated sanctions on Russian Federation, he hopes President Vladimir Putin joins him for a summit in Europe this summer.

The Obama administration expelled diplomats from the 2016 in response to interference in that year's presidential election.

To that effect, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has imposed sweeping sanctions against Russia for "undermining the conduct of free and fair elections and democratic institutions" in the U.S. and for its role in facilitating the sprawling SolarWinds hack, while also barring six technology companies in the country that provide support to the cyber program run by Russian Intelligence Services. In that incident, Russian hackers are believed to have stolen information from computer networks of at least nine US agencies and several businesses.

The attack by hackers who compromised widely used software by Texas-based SolarWinds breached more than 100 USA companies and nine government agencies before it was discovered by a cybersecurity firm.

Last month, US intelligence officials accused Russian Federation of trying to help former president Donald Trump's reelection campaign.

It remained unclear whether the USA actions would actually result in changed behaviour, especially since past measures by the US have failed to bring an end to Russian hacking.

The Treasury also blacklisted 32 entities and individuals that it said had carried out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 presidential election and other "acts of disinformation and interference". Eight have ties to Russia's occupation of Crimea.

In addition, the Biden administration is also expelling ten members of Russia's diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C., including representatives of its intelligence services.

Washington also banned US financial institutions from buying Russian bonds from Russia's central bank, Finance Ministry or national wealth fund.

"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.

FILE - People walk past an exchange booth in a street in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010.

Vladimir Putin has been accused of sponsoring cyber attacks against the West
Vladimir Putin has been accused of sponsoring cyber attacks against the West Credit GETTY IMAGES

"These actions are meant to hold Russian Federation to account for its reckless actions".

The US government said it would also bolster its efforts to "promote a framework of responsible state behaviour in cyber space" and cooperate with allies and partners.

After the White House unveiled its measures, the Russian foreign ministry said a response was "inevitable". She said the ministry had called in the USA ambassador for a "hard conversation", but would not immediately say what action Russian Federation would take.

The executive order on "Blocking Property with Respect to Specified, Harmful Foreign Activities of the Government of the Russian Federation", was signed by Biden on Wednesday and will be made public on Thursday morning, USA officials said.

Russian Federation has repeatedly rejected accusations that it meddles in elections, poisons its critics or offered to pay bounties for the killing of American troops. The sanctions are certain to exacerbate tensions with Russian Federation, which promised a retaliatory response. But they are certain to exacerbate an already tense relationship between the USA and Russian Federation.

US President Joe Biden spoke on Tuesday to Russian President Vladimir Putin to raise concerns about those issues and the buildup of Russian forces in Crimea and along the border with Ukraine, although a top US general saw only a "low-to-medium" risk of a Russian invasion in the next few weeks.

"The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia", Biden said.

In a television interview last month, he replied "I do" when asked if he thought Putin was a "killer". "I was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further, but I chose not to do so".

The statement also called out Russia's extraterritorial "targeting" of dissidents and journalists and undermining of security in countries important to USA national security. "The second goal is very clear in our signaling that we have the option to escalate in a far more forceful way if we so choose, and that really will be determined by Russia's actions".

Hai Do adapted this report for VOA Learning English from AP and Reuters stories.

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