The Government of US President Joe Biden imposed a harsh battery of sanctions against Russia on Thursday and expelled ten members of its diplomatic legation for alleged Russian cyber espionage and interference in the US elections, although it extended its hand to the Kremlin for a dialogue .
To do this, Biden issued an executive order proclaiming a national emergency “regarding the unusual and extraordinary threat to US national security, foreign policy and economy” posed by Russia’s “harmful” activities abroad .
In a call with journalists, Administration officials clarified that the US is not seeking an escalation of tension with Russia despite these actions: “We do not want a downward spiral, we believe that we can and should avoid that, but we have also made it publicly clear that we will defend our national interests “.
Regarding the ten members of the Russian diplomatic mission expelled, the US Government has only clarified that among them there are “representatives of the Russian intelligence services.”
TECH COMPANIES HELPING RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE
In this sense, the US has also sanctioned six Russian technology companies that it accuses of supporting the intelligence of that country. The US has attributed to Russian spy agencies, specifically the Federal Security Service, the Intelligence Directorate and the Foreign Intelligence Service, the massive cyberattack against government systems and large US companies through the SolarWinds program.
Until now, the United States had only spoken about its suspicions that Russia was behind that hacking, supposedly started in 2019, but this Thursday it assured that its intelligence services are “completely sure” of that accusation. The US has also sanctioned 16 Russian companies and 16 individuals for their alleged interference in the 2020 US elections “on the orders of the leadership of the Russian Government.”
Similar measures have been taken by the Biden Executive, in collaboration with the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, against five people, two companies and a detention center for “Russia’s occupation of the Crimea region, Ukraine, and the serious human rights abuses against the local population. ”
Another reason put forward by the US authorities for imposing this battery of sanctions is the information on rewards offered by Russia to the Taliban for attacking the US military in Afghanistan.
With the announcements of this Thursday, all the properties that the sanctioned may have in the US are blocked and Americans and people residing in this country are prohibited from any transaction with the designated persons and entities.
HINDERING THE SALE OF RUSSIAN SOVEREIGN DEBT
In parallel to these penalties, the US Treasury Department has issued an order that prohibits US financial institutions from participating in the main market for bonds issued as of June 14 by the Russian central bank and other institutions in the country, in an attempt to curtail its sale of sovereign debt .
Officials from the Biden government explained in the call that “this is the main market that finances the Russian government,” where, they assured, a quarter of the bonds are in the hands of foreign investors. Consequently, they predicted that preventing US investors from being buyers in this market could create “a broader chilling effect, increasing Russia’s borrowing costs, along with capital flight and a weaker currency.”
Biden already informed Putin of these decisions during the telephone call they had this week, which the US president himself described this Thursday as “sincere and respectful.”
Likewise, Biden proposed to the Russian president a bilateral summit in the coming months “in a third country in Europe” to analyze the relationship between the two countries, but Putin did not respond to this proposal. “When I spoke with President Putin, I expressed my belief that personal and direct communicationbetween the two is essential to move towards a more effective relationship, and he agreed with that point, “Biden said in a speech on Russia from the White House.
In that sense, he opined that both nations could launch” a strategic dialogue of stability “to cooperate in areas such as arms control and security,” the nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea “, the pandemic and the climate crisis, and stressed that during the call he made it” clear “to Putin that he could have gone further, but had chosen not to do so in order to act proportionately. “The United States does not seek to initiate a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable and predictable relationship, “Biden said.
In response to Washington, Russia has summoned the US ambassador, John Sullivan, and the Kremlin already warned on Wednesday that the sanctions would not help to hold a summit between Putin and Biden.