President Joe Biden signed an executive order Thursday morning granting the Department of the Treasury sweeping authority to sanction Russian companies and individuals connected to a series of malign activities.
The order and sanctions come after the Biden administration completed its three-month review of the 2020 SolarWinds hack in early April, at which point officials indicated the administration would specifically target “people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as agencies linked to election interference.”
The U.S. also joins allies in launching sanctions over the attempted assassination and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. (RELATED: U.S. Determines Russia Responsible For ‘Most Or All’ Of Massive Federal Breach)
“The President signed this sweeping new authority to confront Russia’s continued and growing malign behavior,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said of the decision in a statement. “Treasury is leveraging this new authority to impose costs on the Russian government for its unacceptable conduct, including by limiting Russia’s ability to finance its activities and by targeting Russia’s malicious and disruptive cyber capabilities.”
“These actions are intended to hold Russia to account for its reckless actions,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken added in a separate statement. “We will act firmly in response to Russian actions that cause harm to us or our allies and partners. Where possible, the United States will also seek opportunities for cooperation with Russia, with the goal of building a more stable and predictable relationship consistent with U.S. interests.”
The new sanctions target dozens of Russian companies and individuals who were either directly responsible for or supported the Russian government in carrying out the SolarWinds breach or undermining international elections and democracy, according to the White House. The sanctions also direct Treasury and the State Department to terminate visas of Russian nationals targeted by Thursday’s actions and expel them from the country.
Biden’s package of responses, however, did not include any action on Russia’s Nord Stream II pipeline, a decision heartily criticized by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
“Vladimir Putin has amassed 80,000 troops along the border of Ukraine, conducted a massive cyber-attack against the United States, and President Biden responds with a weak set of sanctions,” McCarthy said in a statement to Daily Caller. “If this administration really wanted to send a strong message to Russia, it would have sanctioned Nord Stream 2 by fully implementing the Congressionally mandated, bipartisan sanctions to stop the construction of the Russian pipeline. This is a missed opportunity by President Biden that he has the power to fix immediately.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov released a pre-emptive statement earlier Thursday morning condemning what the Russian government called potential “illegal” sanctions by the Biden administration and “one step forward and two steps back.”
“We condemn any intentions to impose sanctions, consider them illegal, and in any case the principle of reciprocity operates in this area,” he stated, promising “reciprocity so that our own interests are ensured in the best possible way.”
This is a developing story and will be updated with new information as it becomes available.