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US is expected to sanction Russia and expel Russian officials in response to hacks and election interference

The Biden administration is expected to announce sanctions as soon as Thursday targeting Russian individuals and entities, in addition to new financial restrictions and the expulsion of as many as a dozen Russian diplomats from the US, in response to the hack of SolarWinds and election interference, according to two sources familiar with the plans.

The sanctions will target intelligence and government officials and entities involved in the SolarWinds cyber intrusion, the officials said.

One reason the rollout of these actions has taken longer than anticipated is because the White House was not satisfied with the options the State Department initially presented and wanted more expanded sanctions, a US official familiar with the plans said. The White House announced an intelligence review of Russia’s “reckless and adversarial actions” in a wide array of areas during President Joe Biden‘s first week in office.

Another source familiar tells CNN that the administration is expected to take measures against Russia on Thursday and is coordinating with European allies.

These actions will be rolled out in the form of an executive order from Biden as well as sanctions coordinated with the State Department and the Treasury Department, the officials said. State Department officials have called US allies and are preparing for potential Russian responses.

The Russian diplomats who are being expelled are based in Washington, DC, and New York, and they will have 30 days to leave the country, the US official familiar with the plans explained.

New financial restrictions, consisting of efforts to target Russian sovereign debt, will be put in place, which could hurt Russia’s economy.

It is unclear if these sanctions will be enough to change Russian behavior, the officials said.

The White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Biden administration vowed to respond to Russia’s aggressions against the US and its allies in the early days of Biden’s presidency. Biden confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin over a range of issues, from a recent massive cyberattack to the suspected poisoning of the country’s leading opposition figure, during their first phone call. And the Biden administration has already rolled out sanctions for the jailing and poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

Hitting back at Russia also comes as the Biden administration has sought to keep open channels of diplomatic communication and to work with Russia when it is in the US’ interest. Biden put that approach on display this week when he proposed a summit with Putin during their second phone call.

The Biden administration also recently decided to keep the Trump-appointed US ambassador on the job in Moscow for the foreseeable future and invited Putin to a climate change conference later this month.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN Newsource

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