On Thursday, Russia promised to respond soon to new U.S. sanctions as it accused Washington of dangerously raising the temperature of confrontation between the nuclear powers and called in the U.S. envoy to Moscow for what it said would be a difficult talk.
Russian companies blacklisted by the US government expelled Russian diplomats and barred US banks from buying sovereign bonds from Russia’s central bank, national wealth fund, and Finance Ministry. The United States warned Russia that more penalties were possible but said it did not want to escalate.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted angrily and summoned the US ambassador for a diplomatic dressing-down to tell him “a series of retaliatory measures will follow soon.” A ministry spokeswoman also said a possible summit could be imperiled.
Russia denies meddling in US elections, orchestrating a cyber hack that used US tech company, SolarWinds Corp, to penetrate US government networks and using a nerve agent to poison Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Late Wednesday night, Bloomberg reported that the Biden administration is preparing to sanction around a dozen Russians in connection with the massive Solar Winds hack last year. The U.S. could expel up to 10 more people as well, according to the news outlet.
The threats of sanctions and retaliation by Russia come as State Department officials are in the process of negotiating and the summit between Putin and Biden in the near future.
During a recent call with Putin, the White House said Biden also expressed his “unwavering” commitment to Ukraine, a nation seen by the international community as a prime victim of Russian aggression.
“The President voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions,” the White House said in a statement after the call. “President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with U.S. interests, and proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia.”
Russia criticized the Biden administration’s sanctions, saying they are “contrary to the declared intention to ‘build pragmatic relations with Russia.’”
Russian Foreign Ministry also tweeted a statement from spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said, “U.S. aggressive behaviour will certainly lead to a decisive rebuff; there will be an inevitable response to the sanctions. Washington must realize that a price will be paid for bilateral relations’ degradation. The responsibility lies entirely with the U.S.”
💬 #Zakharova: US aggressive behaviour will certainly lead to a decisive rebuff; there will be an inevitable response to the sanctions.
Washington must realise that a price will be paid for bilateral relations’ degradation.
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) April 15, 2021
Sullivan confirmed the meeting with his Russian counterparts in a Thursday statement, saying, “We have been clear that we desire a relationship with Russia that is stable and predictable. However, we have also been clear – publicly and privately – that we will defend our national interests and impose costs on the Russian government for its actions that seek to harm our sovereignty, or our allies, partners, and values.”
In response to the U.S. sanctions, Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the Russian state-run Russia Today (RT) tweeted, “Returning Donbas home can be considered an asymmetric response? For example.”
The Biden White House said the new sanctions were in response to Russia’s alleged involvement in the SolarWinds hack, as well as alleged Russian efforts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections to harm Biden’s candidacy. In March, the U.S. intelligence community issued an assessment that Russia sought to.
Russia has denied responsibility for the SolarWinds hack, wherein thousands of potential U.S. users and government agencies may have been exposed to vulnerabilities hackers planted in the company’s software.
In response to reports the U.S. may launch its own cyber-attacks against Russia in retaliation for the hack, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “This is nothing more than international cybercrime.”
The administration expelled 10 Russian officials from the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. and targeted 32 individuals and entities it assessed were involved in the Russian election interference efforts. Some of the officials to Russian intelligence agencies. The new sanctions further bar U.S. investments in Russian bonds sold by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation after June 14.