WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Thursday announced tough new sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin’s meddling in US elections and its rampant hacking has compromised institutions important government and private companies.
The US government said it punished 32 organizations and individuals for efforts to misinform and conduct Russian government meddling in the 2020 presidential election. to punish eight people and entities involved in the Russian occupation of Crimea.
In an executive order, President Biden instructed the Treasury Department to prohibit US financial institutions from entering the primary market for “ruble or non-ruble bonds” issued after the date. June 14, 2021.
The order also appoints six Russian companies to support the Russian intelligence agency’s network operations.
Predicted by many, the sanctions come as Russia is ramping up its military on the Ukrainian border and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014.
These include what US officials describe as “visible and invisible” steps in response to the hack, known as SolarWinds; CIA assessment that Russia offers bounties for killing US troops in Afghanistan; and Russia’s long-standing attempt to meddle in the US election on behalf of Donald J. Trump.
In the SolarWinds breach, Russian government hackers are believed to have infected network management software used by thousands of government organizations and private companies in what officials believe it to be one. intelligence gathering mission.
On Thursday, the United States formally appointed Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service and a number of connected organizations responsible for the SolarWinds breach, saying that US intelligence agencies “believe highly in the attack. its price “of responsibility to Russia.
In a consultation, the United States presented private companies with specific details about software vulnerabilities that Russian intelligence has used to break into corporate and government systems.
On Thursday, the United States said it would expel 10 Russian diplomats, including members of the Russian intelligence agency, from its mission in Washington, DC, as part of an effort to induce. has a significant impact on the Russian government, its finances and its president, Vladimir V. Putin.
Previous sanctions on Russia have been drawn to a narrower range and have largely affected individuals. As a result, the Kremlin seems to accept or ignore the penalties without changing its behavior.
In early Moscow trading before the announcement, the ruble’s exchange rate to the dollar fell by about 1%, reflecting concerns over how sanctions will play out. The main stock index, Mosbirzhi, also fell just over 1%.
The blast so far reflects the Russian government’s multi-year policy to strengthen financial protection against sanctions and low oil prices by running budget surpluses and devoting billions of dollars into wealth. sovereignty.
Balanced budgets are the core economic policy principle of Putin, who came to power more than 20 years ago during the post-Soviet debt crisis which he saw as an insult to Russia and vowed not to relapse.
However, analysts say last year’s tensions from the pandemic and a drop in global oil prices, a major Russian export, have made Russia more vulnerable to targeted sanctions. on sovereign debts. However, by the first quarter of this year, a rebound in oil prices brought the federal budget back in surplus.
The total Russian debt issued in rubles has risen to 14 trillion rubles, or about $ 190 billion by the end of the year, about 80% of which held by domestic investors could not be dumped. prices in panic.
In recent debt auctions last month, the Russian Finance Ministry issued five-year bonds with interest rates of just over 7%. The relatively high yields make these bonds favored by foreign investors, even though they have sold off their portfolios for weeks in anticipation of possible sanctions, RBC, a newspaper reported. Russian business, reported.
Michael D. Shear reports from Washington, Steven Erlanger from Brussels, and Andrew E. Kramer from Moscow.