Russia on Friday responded to a barrage of new US sanctions, saying it would expel 10 US diplomats and take other retaliatory moves in a tense showdown with the Biden administration.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Kremlin is also expected to sanction eight US officials and put measures in place to prevent American organizations from “interfering” in the country’s political affairs.
Lavrov said that Moscow won’t immediately move to take action to potentially hurt US business in Russia.
The moves come just one day after President Biden announced he would be sanctioning six Russian technology companies and 32 individuals that were involved in Russia’s interference in the 2020 election and breach of American government agencies.
That came after Biden turned around two US warships headed to the Black Sea, which prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to close off the Kerch Strait, connecting Crimea to Russia, to foreign warships until next fall.
The action came as Russia warned the US on Tuesday to stay away from the area “for their own good” after the Biden administration said it was going to send two destroyers — the USS Roosevelt and the USS Donald Cook — to the Black Sea in response to Moscow’s increasing military presence near Ukraine.
Putin will close the Kerch Strait beginning next week until October, blocking foreign warships that are conducting military exercises, including the US, the Ukraine foreign ministry said Thursday.
U.S. officials said the individuals sanctioned were largely Russian intelligence officers working under the guise of a diplomatic mission in Washington.
Biden also signed an executive order barring American financial institutions from participating in new bond sales with Russia’s central bank, National Wealth Fund or Ministry of Finance.
Russia has denied it interfered in last year’s election and hacking of major government agencies and US businesses.
The Kremlin also signaled an openness to Biden’s proposal of a summit between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a European country amid the growing tensions between countries.