President Biden on Thursday signed an executive order declaring a “national emergency” over the threat from Russia, as his administration slapped new sanctions on the country.
The U.S. Department of State said it is expelling 10 officials from Russia’s bilateral mission.
“Today, we announced actions to hold the Russian Government to account for the SolarWinds intrusion, reports of bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and attempts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
President Biden, when asked if he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “killer,” during a recent interview, said yes. (AP)
The White House also released a letter to Congress stating that the president has issued “an Executive Order declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by specified harmful foreign activities of the Government of the Russian Federation.”
The letter said that Russia had aimed to “undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections,” engaged in “malicious cyber-enabled activities,” targeted journalists and dissenters outside of its borders, and violated international law.
This, Biden said in the letter, constitutes “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”
More than 100,000 Russian troops in assault vehicles painted with “invasion stripes” were headed to Ukraine’s border Wednesday, intensifying fears of war between the neighboring nations.
The advancing force includes 1,300 battle tanks, 3,700 drones, 1,300 artillery and mortar units and 380 multiple launch rocket systems, according to documents leaked to the Daily Mirror.
Tensions between the countries have been escalating following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea territory in 2014, an attempt by Moscow to keep NATO away from its borders. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but support for the organization has risen in recent years, and the country is allied with many NATO nations — including the US.
Kyiv has claimed 14,000 people have died in the ongoing conflict, and many fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the COVID-19 pandemic is the right time to attack and control large parts of the country, according to the report.
The appearance of painted stripes on Russian armored vehicles headed to the front lines reminded military experts of similar stripes on tanks used by the Soviet army during the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Mirror reports. The stripes are used as a deterrent to friendly fire.
The military exercise could also be seen as a challenge to the US, as President Biden is expected to impose sanctions against Russia for election interference, hacking and bounties on troops in Afghanistan.