(LibertySociety.com) – Ties between the US and Russia, once somewhat cordial for a time under former President Donald Trump, are deteriorating again. Last month, Joe Biden answered in the affirmative when asked whether he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin was “a killer.” Moscow was predictably unimpressed by this exchange, recalling the Russian ambassador to the United States in the following days.
The Biden administration confirmed more officially on Thursday, April 15, that relations with Russia are becoming tenuous. In an executive order, the White House imposed a range of sanctions on Russia, including the expulsion of ten diplomats from American shores. They also plan to impose restrictions on American banks that trade in Russian debt.
The Biden administration chose to impose these sanctions for a few reasons. One of the major contributors is the hack on SolarWinds in 2020. Hackers targeted the IT firm with a massive cyberattack that wasn’t detected for months. The breach spread to the firm’s clients, including a number of federal government departments.
The digital terrorists implanted a piece of hacked code into SolarWinds software updates, which the company sent out to its clients, inadvertently exposing them to the attack. From this point, the attackers installed even more malware in the infected systems. Experts say the hack was so well orchestrated, many organizations will never know whether they were affected.
When federal investigators first uncovered the hack, they deduced that the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, was behind it. Experts believe Russian intelligence has been behind a range of high-profile cyberattacks in recent years, including on US government email servers in 2014 and 2015.
Earlier this week, Yuri Ushakov, a Putin adviser and former ambassador to the US, stated Moscow would respond to any sanctions in “the most decisive way possible.” We will have to wait and see what that means in practice.
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