(MENAFN - AFP) The United States announced a salvo of sanctions Thursday against Russia in retaliation for what Washington says are "destabilizing international actions," including attacks on American interests.
Washington has accused Moscow of interfering in the 2020 US presidential elections -- as in 2016 -- with digital disinformation campaigns, as well as orchestrating the massive SolarWinds cyberattack discovered in December, which compromised thousands of US government and private sector computer networks.
The United States says Russia violated "well-established principles of international law," including the occupation of Crimea since 2014, and more recently the buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, raising further fears of escalation in the region.
Washington also says Russia is interfering in "countries and regions important to the United States' national security," such as Afghanistan, where Moscow is accused of paying Afghan insurgents to kill US soldiers.
Finally, the sanctions come as the United States expresses growing concern over the deteriorating condition of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Here are the main measures announced:
- Expulsion of diplomats -
The US State Department expelled 10 officials Thursday from the Russian embassy in Washington, some of whom are accused of being members of Moscow's intelligence services.
- Sanctions on debt -
In the most extreme step, the Treasury has prohibited US financial institutions from directly purchasing Russian-issued debt after June 14.
This move will likely have a limited impact, as Russia has only a limited debt and reserves in excess of $180 billion, thanks to its hydrocarbon exports.
But the new measures have already proved painful for the ruble, which fell Thursday against the dollar and had already been struggling since initial sanctions were adopted in 2014.
- Targeting tech companies -
Washington sanctioned six Russian technology companies accused of supporting Moscow's cyberintelligence activities, particularly the SolarWinds attack.
The treasury also targeted 32 organizations and people who allegedly "attempted to influence the 2020 US presidential election" with disinformation campaigns on behalf of the Russian government.
Federal police are offering rewards of up to $250,000 for information leading to the arrest of some of these individuals. All of the companies involved have had their assets frozen in the United states, and US residents are banned from engaging in any transactions with them.
- Coordinated sanctions over Crimea -
In partnership with Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, the US government imposed sanctions on eight people and organizations linked to Russia's "ongoing occupation and repression in Crimea."
The United States denounced in particular the alleged human rights violations at a detention center in Simferopol, in Crimea, where prisoners "are known to freeze, starve, suffer from parasites, and be kept in poorly ventilated, unsanitary cells."
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