The United States were set to announce sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday (15 April) for alleged election interference and malicious cyber activity, targeting several individuals and entities, people familiar the matter said, write Trevor Hunnicutt, Humeyra Pamuk and Steve Holland.
The sanctions, in which 30 entities are expected to be blacklisted, will be tied with orders expelling about 10 Russian officials from the United States, one of the people said.
The United States is also expected to announce aggressive new measures targeting the country’s sovereign debt through restrictions on U.S. financial institutions’ ability to trade such debt, according to another source.
The White House, the US State Department and the US Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The action will add a new chill to the already frosty relations between Washington and Moscow, which has tested the West’s patience with a military build-up near Ukraine.
The wide-ranging sanctions would come partly in response to a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by SolarWinds Corp that the U.S. government has said was likely orchestrated by Russia. The breach gave hackers access to thousands of companies and government offices that used the company’s products.
Microsoft President Brad Smith described the attack, which was identified in December, as “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.”
The United States also intends to punish Moscow for alleged interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In a report last month, U.S. intelligence agencies said Russian President Vladimir Putin likely directed efforts to try to swing the election to then-President Donald Trump and away from now-President Joe Biden.
Biden has also vowed to take action on reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The expected moves by the Biden administration are likely to exacerbate tensions in a relationship that slumped to a new post-Cold War low last month after Biden said he thought Putin was a “killer.”
In a call on Tuesday, Biden told Putin that the United States would act “firmly” to defend its interests in response to those actions, according to U.S. officials’ account of the call.
Biden also proposed a meeting with Putin “in a third country” that could allow the leaders to find areas to work together.
In the past few weeks, Washington and its NATO allies have been alarmed by a large build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
“The hostility and unpredictability of America’s actions force us in general to be prepared for the worst scenarios,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week, anticipating the new sanctions.
Putin reviews Russian military might as tensions with West soar
President Vladimir Putin (pictured) reviewed Russia's traditional World War Two victory parade on Sunday (9 May), a patriotic display of raw military power that this year coincides with soaring tensions with the West.
The parade on Moscow's Red Square commemorating the 76th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two featured over 12,000 troops andmore than 190 pieces of military hardware, including intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, and a fly-past by nearly 80 military aircraft under cloudy skies.
Putin, who has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999, stood beside Soviet war veterans on a review platform set up on Red Square.
"Unfortunately there are once again attempts to deploy many things from the ideology of the Nazis, those who were obsessed with a delusional theory on their exclusiveness. And not only (by) all sorts of radicals and international terrorist groups," Putin said in what appeared to be a common denunciation of the West but what the Kremlin said was aimed at the rise of neo-Nazism in Europe.
"Russia will again and again uphold international law, but at the same time we will firmly protect national interests (and) ensure the security of our people."
This year's parade precedes parliamentary elections in September and comes at a time when Moscow's relations with the West are acutely strained over issues ranging from the conflict in Ukraine to the fate of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
The United States and Russia have expelled each other's diplomats in recent months in a series of retaliatory moves and Moscow and EU member states have been involved in a similar tit-for-tat diplomatic dispute.
Sunday's parade follows a massive show of Russian military force near the borders of Ukraine and in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Kyiv in 2014, and an uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
Moscow said the build-up, which alarmed the West, was a training exercise in response to activity by the NATO military alliance and Ukraine. It has since ordered a withdrawal of some troops. Read more
Smaller military parades took place on Sunday in cities across Russia and in annexed Crimea, and at Russia's Hmeymim air base in Syria.
Stalinism or a feat of the people?
The Second World War ended almost 76 years ago, but the debate around this topic has not finished to this day. And, if for Russians the Great Patriotic War is a sacred and untouchable page of history, in the Western community a revisionist approach flourishes among different circles, bordering on a deliberate distortion of historical facts and real events – write Evgeny Dumalkin and Alexander Arifov.
The most “fashionable" trend in the last few years has been attempts to lay the blame for the outbreak of the 2nd World War equally on Germany and the Soviet Union, led by Stalin, who is put on a par with Hitler.
Despite the decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal, politicians from different countries publicly make statements that not only Nazi Germany, but also the leadership of the USSR was behind the outbreak of war in 1939. Stalin is accused of a "criminal collusion" with Hitler, implying the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and in particular, its secret protocol.
Europe on the eve of the 2nd World War: geopolitical chaos
Another memorable date associated with the defeat of Nazism in Europe, makes us going back to the 1930s of the 20th century and once again analyzing the events that led to the most terrible war.
The regime of the Weimar Republic established in 1919, as well as the disunity of the political elite in Europe, became the fertile ground that nurtured Hitler and the national socialist regime in Germany.
On one side was the vast and growing Soviet Union with its communist ideology. On the other hand, capitalist Europe, which tried its best to contain the USSR.
The rise to power of the Nazis in Germany in 1933 further fueled the flames of ideological competition on the continent. The rapidly gaining strength of the political, economic and, of course, the military machine of Hitler gave a chance to establish a kind of «ram" against Moscow.
In the 1930s, the ideology of national socialism was rapidly gaining popularity in Europe - it was seen as the opposite and powerful force to communist ideas.
Such trends in politics, as well as the weakness of international institutions of cooperation - the League of Nations was almost obsolete, gradually losing any practical meaning - characterized the chaos that reigned in international relations at that time.
Hitler actively strengthened the position of Germany, including abandoning any deterrent mechanisms in military development. Britain and France actually condoned Hitler's expansionism by giving the green light to his aggressive policies. The partition of Czechoslovakia, and then its transformation into a protectorate, the Anschluss of Austria, the annexation of Danzig, and finally the Munich Treaty - all these and many other actions of the German leadership, with the tacit consent of Europe, almost brought the continent to the brink of war.
On this background, Stalin had his own "giveaway game" with Hitler, which resulted in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the protocol on the Europe's division.
Both sides had stroke many agreements with Hitler and were sure that he was in their hands, and would go to war wherever he was told. They acted completely synchronously. The Munich Agreement and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact are two identical documents in their meaning, so it would be much wiser and more effective to admit that the Second World War was caused by the monstrously inept and short-sighted actions of both sides, but this is hardly possible to acknowledge outside of a narrow community of historians, who already understand everything.
Attempts to make adjustments to the nature and results of the 2nd World War pursue, in our opinion, quite specific political goals of an anti-Russian nature, and not the search for historical truth. It is more relevant and fair to speak out about the USSR people's feat which we are keen to depict on own families' examples.
Feat of the Soviet people
For the Soviet Union, the war with Nazi Germany was an extremely difficult, bloody test. The country has lost, according to some sources, up to 30 million people, including military and civilian casualties. More than 30% of the national heritage has been destroyed. Such damage is not comparable to what other countries, including Germany, have lost.
To this day, historians and researchers, both in Russia and abroad, argue about the tactics of the Soviet leadership, the military command and Stalin personally on the eve and during the war. Different opinions often heard that the losses were excessive. It is claimed that Stalin did not want to provoke Hitler, so there were such high losses in manpower and equipment in the first stage of the war. Other points of view are also expressed, for example, about the notorious "barrage detachments" and the famous order "no step back".
In any case, even taking into account the miscalculations of the country's leadership and Stalin personally, the Soviet people showed incredible heroism, endurance and perseverance in the fight against German aggression.
The words "unprecedented feat of the people" conceal incredible strength of spirit, will and devotion to the Homeland. Soviet propaganda added that soldiers used the call "For the Homeland, For Stalin". However, numerous testimonies show that people, first of all, fought for their land, homes and families. It is enough to recall the unprecedented scale of the partisan movement, which was not the case in Europe.
One would't find a single family in the Soviet Union that has not been affected by the war. Moreover, people cherish the memory of their dead ancestors, pass this memory to their children.
Our grandfathers told us: "War is a daily and hourly hard work. life in conditions of constant restrictions and deprivations: physical, material, moral, spiritual. There are some examples from the memories of our families' veterans:
- To be with two children in German-occupied territory, one of whom died in his arms after picking up a child's toy, specially mined by the retreating Germans. To see how the invaders treated the Soviet people — it was not a struggle against the state of the USSR, it was a war with the people, children, women...
- Once surrounded in the autumn, to sit for almost three days in the swamp, waiting for the Germans to remove the cordon on its banks to then reach Russian troops. Do not give up and pay for a lifetime of chronic kidney disease.
- Fighting on the other part of the country, to come home in 1943 and personally evacuate the family from the Crimea raging in battles to Orenburg (1500 km).
There was a deep belief in victory, there was an understanding of something higher among those deaths, battles, the horrors of war, our grandfathers told us. It was a war of people who did not lose their human qualities.
A vivid confirmation of this family memory is the holding of the so-called "immortal regiments" processions in the cities of Russia and all over the world, where our compatriots live.
The war marked a sharp difference between the Nazis and the Soviet soldiers. The Nazis, driven by racial hatred and propaganda, brutally destroyed people in the occupied territories, millions of people were driven to work in Germany, were sent to concentration camps.
The Soviet people, when the liberation of Europe from the fascists began, especially when the Red Army troops came to Germany, did not take revenge and did no evil towards the Germans. It is enough to recall that Stalin emphasised: "The Hitlers come and go but the German people, and the German state remains."
The Soviet soldiers suffered the main hardships of the war. Of course, someone, especially in the West, can claim that the army was following Stalin's orders and the soldier was driven by fear. But the facts prove that a huge numbers of superhuman achievements and the mass scale of heroism both at the front line and in the rear, both from adults and teenagers, were the result of the fact that the Soviet people understood and realized that they were defending not only the Homeland, but also the very fact of the future existence of themselves, their children and grandchildren.
Evgeny Dumalkin is the partner of Amaltheya Capital Partners, Moscow
Alexander Arifov is the CEO of Runa Bank, Moscow
Russia: Summoning of the Russian Ambassador to the EU
European Commission Secretary General Ilze Juhansone and External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino jointly summoned the Ambassador of Russian Federation to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov (pictured) to condemn the decision of the Russian authorities from last Friday (30 April) to ban eight European Union nationals from entering the territory of the Russian Federation.
Ambassador Chizhov was informed of the strong rejection and firm condemnation by the EU institutions and EU member states of this decision, which was purely politically motivated and lacks any legal justification.
Secretaries-General I. Juhansone and S. Sannino also recalled Russia's expulsion of Czech diplomats and the executive order of the Russian Federation of so called “unfriendly states”, expressing their grave concern for the cumulative impact of all these decisions on the relations between the EU and the government of the Russian Federation.
They also noted that the EU reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response.
COVID-195 days ago
EU launches new strategy to develop therapeutic treatments for COVID-19
Defence4 days ago
Defence: Is the EU creating a European army?
UK5 days ago
European Commission calls for calm over Jersey fishing dispute
EU4 days ago
Is Portugal in danger of returning to being the 'sick man' of Europe?
Climate change4 days ago
Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans attends Petersberg Climate Dialogue
Canada4 days ago
PESCO: Canada, Norway and the United States will be invited to participate in the project Military Mobility
Russia5 days ago
Stalinism or a feat of the people?
EU4 days ago
Sassoli: 'Europe must take urgent action to protect its citizens’ lives and futures'