UK summons Russian ambassador over cyberattacks, Ukraine

The United Kingdom on Thursday summoned the Russian ambassador to the country over Moscow’s “malign” behavior regarding cyber hacking and its military buildup along the Ukrainian border.

“The UK Government is deeply concerned about a pattern of malign behaviour by the Russian State. At today’s Summons, [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] FCDO Permanent Under Secretary Sir Philip Barton made clear the UK’s support for the actions announced by President Biden in response to Russia’s recent activity,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The Foreign Office specifically cited evidence that showed Russia was behind the sprawling SolarWinds hack and spiking tensions with Ukraine, where officials fear that Russia’s military buildup may be preparation for an upcoming invasion.

“These activities are threatening and destabilising. Russia needs to cease its provocations and de-escalate tensions in line with its international obligations,” the department said. 

The Foreign Office’s announcement marked the latest attempt by Western powers to ramp up pressure on Russia over its cyber activities, election interference and military tensions with Ukraine.

The Biden administration Thursday rolled out a slate of sanctions against Russia over the issues.

The administration, under the order, will block U.S. financial institutions from purchasing bonds from Russia’s Central Bank, National Wealth Fund or Ministry of Finance after June 14 and from lending funds to these institutions. Biden’s order also leaves the door open to boosting sanctions on Russian sovereign debt and expels 10 people from the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington, including some the White House says are intelligence operatives.

Beyond the new penalties, government officials warned that more punishments could be coming down the pike should Russia’s behavior not change. 

“There are elements of this new EO that give us additional authorities that we are not exercising today,” a senior official said. “We would prefer not to have to deploy these authorities, but the scope and potential to cause meaningful impact should send a clear signal that continued harmful activities, including further election interference, further malicious cyber activities are unacceptable, and we are prepared going forward to impose substantial and lasting costs if this behavior continues.”

Tags cyberattacks Foreign relations of Russia Government of Russia International relations International sanctions during the Ukrainian crisis Joe Biden Russia Ukraine United Kingdom
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