The United States announced economic sanctions against Russia on Thursday and the expulsion of 10 diplomats in retaliation for what Washington says is the Kremlin's US election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.
US President Joe Biden ordered a widening of restrictions on US banks trading in Russian government debt, expelled 10 diplomats who include alleged spies, and sanctioned 32 individuals alleged to have tried to meddle in the 2020 presidential election, the White House said.
Biden's executive order "sends a signal that the United States will impose costs in a strategic and economically impactful manner on Russia if it continues or escalates its destabilizing international action," the White House said in a statement.
The statement listed in first place Moscow's "efforts to undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners."
This referred to allegations that Russian intelligence agencies mounted persistent disinformation and dirty tricks campaigns during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, in part to help Donald Trump's candidacy.
The White House said the sanctions also respond to "malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies and partners," referring to the massive so-called SolarWinds hack of US government computer systems last year.
The statement also called out Russia's extraterritorial "targeting" of dissidents and journalists and undermining of security in countries important to US national security.
In addition, the Department of Treasury, together with the European Union, Australia, Britain and Canada, sanctioned eight individuals and entities associated with Russia's occupation of Crimea in Ukraine.
In Brussels, the NATO military alliance said US allies "support and stand in solidarity with the United States, following its 15 April announcement of actions to respond to Russia's destabilizing activities."-AFP