Credit: Gage Skidmore under licence CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr

Biden declares national emergency over Russian tension

The Biden administration has declared a national emergency on Thursday amid growing tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border, and citing alleged Russian cyberattacks and election interference.

This week the administration put sanctions on more than six Russian companies and 32 individuals, and expelled 10 Russian diplomats, giving them 30 days to leave the US.

America has also cancelled the deployment of two warships that had been heading towards the Black Sea, in which the pivotal Crimean Peninsula is situated. The Kremlin has been sabre-rattling about this since Tuesday, warning the US not to approach its interests and referring to America as an “adversary.”

Biden has signed an executive order regarding the SolarWinds major cyber attack earlier this year, where a large US IT firm was hacked and compromised on a vast scale – an attack which went undetected for months.

This was widely believed to be the doing of Russian intelligence agencies, and was allegedly used to spy on anything from private companies, up to and including the highest levels of the US government, with Biden claiming that Russia has engaged in “malicious cyber-enabled activities against the United States and its allies and partners.”

Biden also alleges that the Kremlin was guilty of interference in the 2020 US election, accusing Russia of attempting to “undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners.”

However, after investigation, the US intelligence community found no evidence that Russia or any other foregin actor manipulated votes – though they claim that both Iran and Russia attempted to.

Regardless, these alleged actions, he says, “constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

In a call to Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week, Biden reportedly informed the Russian leader that “the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to Russia’s actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference,” according to a White House Statement.

Additionally, in coordination with the EU, the UK, Canada and Australia, the US sanctioned eight individuals associated with the Russian occupation of Crimea – a move which Russia condemned as “illegal”, vowing to respond.

“We condemn any pursuit of sanctions, we consider them illegal,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

“In any case, the principle of reciprocity in this matter is valid; reciprocity in a way that best serves our interests.

Additionally he added that these sanctions would harm a planned summit between Biden and Putin that was to take place in the near future.

“It goes without saying that possible sanctions being discussed would by no means promote such a meeting.

“It’s still too early to talk about this meeting in tangible terms. It’s a new proposal and it will be studied.”

The US command centre in Europe set its threat level to the highest possible tier last month due to mounting tensions on the Russian/Ukrainian border, with broken ceasefires and Russian troop build-ups appearing to swell near Crimea.

Just this week, Biden Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that the US is concerned about the number of Russian troops gathering at the Ukrainian border and said that “there will be consequences” for Russia if they show aggressive behaviour.

Russia claims that Ukraine is on the verge of civil war, which would endanger their own nation to have a conflict so close to their borders, requiring intervention.


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