USA announces sanctions against Russian Federation and expels 10 diplomats

WASHINGTON DC- FEBRUARY 28 Paul Manafort former campaign manager for Donald Trump exits the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse

CNN previously reported the Biden administration was expected to announce sanctions as soon as Thursday targeting Russian individuals and entities, in addition to new financial restrictions and the expulsion of as many as a dozen Russian diplomats from the USA, in response to the hack of SolarWinds and election interference, according to two sources familiar with the plans.

President Joe Biden planned to deliver remarks about Russian Federation at the White House at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the White House said.

The measures are meant to send a clear retributive message to Russian Federation and to deter similar acts in the future.

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 worldwide action", the White House said in a statement.

The actions, foreshadowed by the administration for weeks, signal a harder line against Putin, whom Trump was reluctant to criticize even as his administration pursued sanctions against Moscow. The Biden administration also formally attributed the SolarWinds breach to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

DETROW: Of course, you know, as you mentioned, for four years, the Trump administration took a much less confrontational tone with Russian Federation. But they are certain to exacerbate an already tense relationship between the US and Russian Federation. Administration officials said Thursday they had low to moderate confidence in that intelligence. The sanctions, the Treasury Department said, target "the private and state-owned companies" that "enable the Russian Intelligence Services' cyber activities". The individuals who were targeted include Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political consultant who worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and who was indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. There is an ongoing substantial buildup of Russian troops along the Ukraine border, something that's really alarming Western Europe and the U.S. Mueller's office said it had been unable to determine what Kilimnik had done with the information after getting it from the Trump campaign.

Sources said the Kremlin told Sullivan on Wednesday that Washington must refrain from introducing new sanctions on Russian Federation if it wants to mend ties.

"We have repeatedly warned the United States about the consequences of their hostile steps which dangerously raise the temperature of confrontation between our two countries", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters.

US set to slap new sanctions on Russian officials as soon as Thursday - Sources

She said the ministry has summoned the USA ambassador for a "hard conversation", but wouldn't immediately say what action Russian Federation will take. "In Washington, they must realize that it's necessary to pay for the degradation of bilateral relations".

DETROW: That's right. Biden had made it clear throughout the campaign, the transition, early on that he was going to treat Russian Federation differently and be tougher.

Among the sanctions to be unveiled are the blacklisting of about 30 entities as well as orders expelling about 10 Russian officials from the United States, one person familiar with the matter said.

President Joe Biden told Putin this week in their second call to "de-escalate tensions" following a Russian military buildup on Ukraines border and said the USA would act firmly in defense of its national interests regarding Russian intrusions and election interference.

The US said the scope of the compromise was such that it was a clear national and public security concern, and placed an undue burden on the private sector victims that bear the "unusually high" mitigation costs.

In a television interview last month, Biden replied "I do" when asked if he thought Putin was a "killer". Putin later recalled his ambassador to the USA and pointed at the United States history of slavery and slaughtering Native Americans and the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II.

"However, we have also been clear - publicly and privately - that we will defend our national interests and impose costs for Russian Government actions that seek to harm us". During the background call with journalists on Thursday morning, a senior administration official declined to specify how the administration selected the specific personnel beyond stating that the US government had "determined that they were acting in a manner inconsistent with their status" in the United States.