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US, Russian officials discuss sanctions

US, Russian officials discuss sanctions
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U.S. diplomats met with Russian officials Wednesday to discuss a recent spate of sanctions between the U.S. and Russia as the Biden administration looks to take a tough stance on Moscow.

“U.S. embassy officials in Moscow met today with Russian officials to discuss various bilateral topics, including the Russian response to our announcement last week,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday at a briefing.

“We expect these discussions will continue in the coming days. We’ll review the details of the Russian actions as we were notified officially of some elements today. At the same time, we continue to believe that the best way forward is through thoughtful dialogue and diplomatic engagement going forward.” 

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Price also said the U.S. has received a formal list of diplomats Russia is expelling in response to Washington’s penalties, though he declined to identify which people are being kicked out of Moscow.

The U.S. last week slapped a slate of sanctions on Russia over malign behavior, including its cyber espionage operations, election meddling and hostile actions toward Ukraine.

The sanctions 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. The U.S. is also expelling 10 personnel from the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington.

“There are elements of this new [executive order] that give us additional authorities that we are not exercising today,” a senior official said last week. “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.”

The discussions come as the Biden administration looks to take a tough stance on Russia, most recently sounding the alarm over the Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border since 2014, the year Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

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Price maintained that the U.S. remained committed to defending Ukraine and noted that the U.S. will continue sending lethal defensive weapons systems to the Ukrainian military.

Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBlinken, Lavrov to meet next week Former Russian mayor who encouraged pro-Navalny protests is jailed China's emissions now eclipse the developed world — preventing climate protection MORE warned Western nations Wednesday of pushing Moscow, saying anyone who crosses a "red line" will be met with a harsh response. 

“If someone interprets our good intentions as indifference or weakness and is willing to cross a red line, they should know that Russia’s response would be asymmetric, fast and tough," Putin said. “I hope that no one will think of crossing the red line with Russia, for every single case we will determine where that red line is.”