FILE PHOTO: Russian and U.S. state flags fly near a factory in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad Region, Russia March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File Photo/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The Biden administration announced a range of retaliatory measures against Russian diplomats, adding sanctions against dozens of people and companies in response to Moscow’s recent activity. The measures aim to hold the Kremlin accountable for alleged election interference and the widespread SolarWinds hacking campaign that impacted numerous government agencies. The measures expelled Russian diplomats, blacklisted Russian companies and placed restrictions on the Russian sovereign debt.

These sanctions aimed to cut deeper than past efforts as Moscow previously disregarded many rounds of sanctions administration officials had imposed. Russia’s foreign ministry said these sanctions will dangerously raise the temperature between the U.S. and Russia, warranting a “strong rebuff.” 

“The response to the sanctions will be inescapable,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “Washington must realize that they will have to pay for the degradation of bilateral relations. The responsibility for what is happening lies entirely with the United States of America.”

North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies voiced support for the U.S. sanctions and condemned Moscow over the increasing number of Russian troops stationed along Ukraine’s border. Russia previously threatened to “destroy” Ukraine NATO sent troops to the region.

“Russia continues to demonstrate a sustained pattern of destabilising behaviour,” NATO said in a statement including all 30 NATO allies. “We stand in solidarity with the United States.”

The new measures sanction 32 entities and individuals as well as six Russian companies that provide support to the Russian government’s hacking operations. The measures also included the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats working in Washington following allegations that some offered to pay bounties to Afghanistan militants to kill U.S. military service members. 

As part of the retaliatory measures, President Joe Biden and his senior national security team issued a new executive order expanding prohibitions on U.S. financial firms trading in Russian government debt. Previous prohibitions that targeted Russian sovereign debt heavily impacted Russian markets. The White House said the sanctions show the US. will continue to impose costs that are economically impactful on Russia if it continues “destabilizing international action.”

Biden spoke to President Vladimir Putin by phone on Tuesday to preview the sanctions and proposed a summit “in the coming months.” According to the White House, the two discussed regional and global issues. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden aimed to strike a balance by providing a credible response to Russia’s aggression that did not escalate the situation.

The sanctions mark a new low point in U.S. relations with Russia, but Sullivan said Biden believes the U.S. can have a stable relationship with Russia. 

“We do not think that we need to continue on a negative trajectory,” the White House said in a statement. “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.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Biden declares Russia threat ‘national emergency,’ lobs sanctions; 10 diplomats booted over election meddling – Fox News – 4/15/2021
The White House also released a letter to Congress stating that the president has issued “an Executive Order declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by specified harmful foreign activities of the Government of the Russian Federation.” […] The tough stance from the Biden administration comes as tensions have escalated between the U.S. and Russia during the president’s first three months.

Fresh sanctions may barely dent Fortress Russia – Financial Times – 4/15/2021
Today Russia is less vulnerable to outside pressure than in 2014. The debt its government and private borrowers owe to foreigners is low. And the resources they have to cover those debts, whether from export revenues or in foreign reserves, is high. For example, Russia’s short-term foreign debts amount to barely 10 per cent of its foreign currency reserves, compared with an average of over 30 per cent in emerging countries Russia is also less beholden to the global oil market.

Rep. Sherrill says Biden’s new Russia sanctions are a ‘good start’ – MSNBC [Video] – 4/15/2021
Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), tells Stephanie Ruhle that President Biden’s new sanctions against Russia for election interference and the SolarWinds hack are a “good start.” The former Navy helicopter pilot also reacts to the latest news that the United States will fully withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 and says she feels confident in the Biden administration’s approach.

Opinion | Biden was right to call Putin a ‘killer’ — but is he doing enough to save Alexei Navalny? – The Hill – 4/13/2021
Hopefully Biden is planning even stronger sanctions, perhaps in conjunction with measures that would make the Kremlin “pay a price,” as Biden promised, for its election interference. But Biden must act quickly and forcibly because Navalny is on a hunger strike to protest his mistreatment in prison and has already lost 30 pounds in three weeks. If Navalny dies without further American sanctions, Biden will have let a brave man down.

Six key takeaways from Biden’s Russia sanctions announcement – CNN – 4/15/2021
Congressional Republicans praised the Biden administration for taking action against Russia, but they were critical that the sanctions announced Thursday did not include any action to try to prevent the completion of a natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany known as Nord Stream 2. “I commend the administration for these actions, but I consider them less than a half step forward. What is missing is a robust effort to actually stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

Opinion | How bad can it get if US imposes sanctions on Russian debt? – bne IntelliNews – 3/16/2021
The new wording reflected this sanctions risk, with the bond’s prospectus making reference to a so-called ‘[alternative] payment currency event’ allowing Moscow to re-pay debt holders in US dollars, Euros or Swiss Francs when interest payments or the principal came due “if, for reasons beyond its control, the Russian Federation is unable to make payments of principal or interest (in whole or in part) in respect of the New Bonds in US dollars”. What level of sovereign debt sanctions would trigger the event is not specified.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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