Russia says that a response to the new sanctions is "inevitable" and that the foreign ministry has summoned US ambassador to Moscow.

US President Joe Biden in Washington, DC on April 14, 2021, and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Moscow on April 15, 2020.
US President Joe Biden in Washington, DC on April 14, 2021, and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Moscow on April 15, 2020. (AP)

The United States has announced economic sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of 10 diplomats in retaliation for what Washington says is the Kremlin's US election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.

President Joe Biden ordered a widening of restrictions on US banks trading in Russian government debt, expelled 10 diplomats who include alleged spies, and sanctioned 32 individuals alleged to have tried to meddle in the 2020 presidential election, the White House said on Thursday.

Biden's executive order "sends a signal that the United States will impose costs in a strategic and economically impactful manner on Russia if it continues or escalates its destabilising international action," the White House said in a statement.

The US statement listed in first place Moscow's "efforts to undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners."

This referred to allegations that Russian intelligence agencies mounted persistent disinformation and dirty tricks campaigns during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, in part to help Donald Trump's candidacy.

The White House said the sanctions also respond to "malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies and partners," referring to the massive so-called SolarWinds hack of US government computer systems last year.

The statement also called out Russia's extraterritorial "targeting" of dissidents and journalists and undermining of security in countries important to US national security.

READ MORE: US, EU slap sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning and jailing

Russia summons envoy

Russia's Foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that a Russian response to the new sanctions was "inevitable" and that the ministry had summoned US ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan.

"The United States is not ready to come to terms with the objective reality that there is a multipolar world that excludes American hegemony," Zakharova said in televised remarks.

"We have repeatedly warned the United States about the consequences of its hostile steps, which dangerously increase the degree of confrontation between our countries."

Bounties on US troops

The White House also said Biden was using diplomatic, military and intelligence channels to respond to reports that Russia encouraged the Taliban to attack US and allied troops in Afghanistan based on the “best assessments” of the intelligence community.

Reports of alleged “bounties” surfaced last year, with the Trump administration coming under fire for not raising the issue directly with Russia.

The White House did not publicly confirm the reports. “The safety and well-being of US military personnel, and that of our allies and partners, is an absolute priority of the United States,” the White House said Thursday.

READ MORE: Russia offered Afghan militants bounties to kill US soldiers – report

In addition, the Department of Treasury, together with the European Union, Australia, Britain and Canada, sanctioned eight individuals and entities associated with Russia 's occupation of Crimea in Ukraine.

In Brussels, the NATO military alliance said US allies "support and stand in solidarity with the United States, following its 15 April announcement of actions to respond to Russia's destabilising activities."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies