United States imposes sanctions on Moscow, expels 10 Russian diplomats

US President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on President Vladimir Putin's Russia

The White House said the sanctions likewise respond to "malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies and partners", referring to the massive so-called SolarWinds hack of USA government computer systems previous year. The White House explicitly named a notorious hacking group known as APT29 or Cozy Bear - one of the spy outfits behind the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee - as being responsible for the SolarWinds compromises.

The adversary's compromise of the SolarWinds software supply chain is said to have given it the ability to remotely spy or potentially disrupt more than 16,000 computer systems worldwide, according to the executive order issued by the US government. The NCSC statement also linked the SVR to intrusions of European government computer networks stretching back a decade.

They come amid an already tense relationship between the US and Russia, with US President Joe Biden telling Russian President Vladimir Putin this week that the US would "act firmly in defence of its national interests" regarding Russian intrusions and election interference.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the sanctions would "serve to reduce Russian resources available to carry out similar malign activities".

President Joe Biden's executive order "sends a signal that the United States will impose costs in a strategic and economically impactful manner on Russian Federation if it continues or escalates its destabilizing global action", the White House said. In that intrusion Russian hackers are believed to have infected widely used software with malicious code enabling them to access the networks of at least nine agencies in what United States officials believe was an intelligence gathering operation aimed at Mining Government secrets.

Zakharova also said that a Russian response to the sanctions was "unavoidable".

"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".

At the same time, the US National Security Agency (NSA), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have today issued an alert to expose further SVR-linked exploitation of five common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) to target both public and private sector organisations in the US and around the world.

Still, some lawmakers expressed skepticism that the Russian hacking had violated any norms.

The Biden administration issued new sanctions against Russian Federation on Thursday.

The American government was looking at further steps to protect the technology supply chain against "further exploitation" by Russian Federation, the White House added.

Also Thursday, U.S. government agencies issued an alert aimed at the private sector, saying that the SVR was exploiting five vulnerabilities to target U.S. companies.

In addition, Treasury Department targeted Russia's sovereign wealth, prohibiting USA financial institutions from certain dealings with Russian sovereign debt.

"To bolster its malicious cyber operations, the FSB cultivates and co-opts criminal hackers, including the previously designated Evil Corp, enabling them to engage in disruptive ransomware attacks and phishing campaigns", the Treasury Department said. The White House announced that summit proposal earlier this week.



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