On Thursday, the Biden administration decided to impose sanctions against Russia. It also declared a “national emergency” as a reaction to the said country’s alleged involvement in the so-called SolarWinds cyberattack during the 2020 elections.
According to a White House press release, the administration led by President Joe Biden announced that the Treasury Department had sanctioned a total of 32 entities and individuals. These include government official and intelligence agencies. It also sanctioned technology companies of Russian origin for their role in trying to influence the 2020 elections.
Additionally, the Treasury Department released a directive that stops US financial institutions from taking part in the primary market for new debt issued by the Russian Central Bank, as well as its National Wealth Fund or Ministry of Finance.
According to Bloomberg News, many know that the directive that restricts investors from the US from buying Russian government debt has served as a “nuclear option in the financial markets” for a long time now. Here, bonds or OFZs are known to be popular investments.
Biden Administration Directive Impose Sanctions Against Russia
The Bloomberg report also said that foreigners currently hold around 20% of the said debt. This comes at about $37 million.
The news release also stated that this directive gives the US government authority to expand the sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt accordingly.
Apart from the sanctions, the Biden administration also decided to act and expel 10 Russians from the said country’s diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C.
President Biden also sent a letter to Congress, announcing that he approved an executive order that declares a national emergency. This one is connected to “the unusual and extraordinary threat” to the country’s security, foreign policy and economy, which is posed by several specific foreign activities of the Russian government.
This news follows Biden’s first phone call with Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin. It also follows rising tensions in the eastern part of Europe as Russian forces gather near the Ukrainian border once again.
Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury Secretary, released a statement, saying that Biden decided to approve these actions to confront Russia’s “continued and growing malign behaviour.”
Russian Sanctions Come Following Country’s Malign Behavior and Attempt to Influence US Election
In addition to this, Yellen said that the Treasury department “is leveraging this new authority” that imposes costs on Russia “for its unacceptable conduct,” by limiting the said country’s means to finance activities and by focusing on Russia’s “malicious and disruptive cyber capabilities.”
In the sweeping sanctions, the US claimed that the Russian Foreign Intelligence Serve perpetrated the attack on the SolarWinds Orion Platform software. The said cyberattack happened as early as March 2020. At that time, malicious code had been discreetly included in an update for the software. Large companies and government agencies mostly use the said software.
Shortly following the discovery of the hack in December, intelligence officials from the US praised suspicions on Russia’s hand. Tom Bossert, who had served as a Homeland Security adviser to former President Trump, also warned that Russia may have “persistent access” to the hacked networks of the US government and said that this may continue for years to come. He also said that, as a result of the cyberattack, they might have access to the power that can “destroy or alter data.”