Russian Federation studies ‘reciprocity’ action against US after latest sanctions

The White House

US poised to sanction Russia for cyber-attacks

Russian officials have expressed outrage that the White House announced the sanctions and expulsions two days after Biden spoke to Putin by phone. USA officials believe it was an intelligence-gathering operation aimed at stealing government secrets. Last month, the US sanctioned seven mid-level and senior Russian officials, along with more than a dozen government entities, over a almost fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing.

"Today, Canada joins the United States and global partners in voicing our concerns related to a Russian cyber-espionage campaign that exploited the SolarWinds Orion platform", read the statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

The sanctions, foreshadowed for weeks by the administration, would represent the first retaliatory action announced against the Kremlin for last year's hack, familiarly known as the SolarWinds breach.

His comments follow the US announcement Thursday it would expel 10 Russian diplomats as well place sanctions on 32 Russia-related individuals and companies accused of interfering in the 2020 presidential election, spreading disinformation and other harmful actions. Officials have been advising that their response to Russian Federation would be in ways both seen and unseen.

But, he added, "where possible, the United States will also seek opportunities for co-operation with Russian Federation, with the goal of building a more stable and predictable relationship consistent with USA interests". The White House did not publicly confirm the reports.

According to the executive order, the United States is expelling ten personnel from the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington, DC.

Moscow issued a forceful response Friday, announcing that top USA officials including Attorney General Merrick Garland, Biden's chief Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice, and Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Christopher Wray would be banned from entering Russian Federation. But they are certain to exacerbate an already tense relationship between the US and Russian Federation. The measures target 32 individuals and groups, accusing them of attempting to interfere in last year's presidential election.

Ties then hit rock bottom last month after Biden, who promised to take a firmer line on Moscow than his predecessor Donald Trump, agreed with a description of Putin as a "killer".

Those banned included FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Besides infiltrating the networks of Microsoft, FireEye, Malwarebytes, and Mimecast, the attackers are also said to have used SolarWinds as a stepping stone to breaching several us agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Departments of State, Justice, Commerce, Homeland Security, Energy, Treasury, and the National Institutes of Health.

The UK government has previously exposed details of other parts of the Russian Federation intelligence service conducting cyber operations.

Hudson Institute senior fellow Rebeccah Heinrichs on the Biden administration imposing new sanctions on Russian Federation. Other measures are expected as Biden gave an executive order permitting the US government to sanction any part of the Russian economy.

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