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US expels Russian diplomats in response to SolarWinds hack

The move is also retaliation for alleged election interference.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - APRIL 8, 2021: Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting at the Moscow Kremlin to discuss the implementaton of his 2019-2020 addresses to the Russian Federal Assembly. Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin\TASS via Getty Images)
Alexei Druzhinin\TASS via Getty Images
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|April 15, 2021 9:52 AM

The US is following through on promises of retaliation against Russia for its alleged involvement in the SolarWinds cyberattack. The AP reports that President Biden has expelled 10 Russian diplomats from Washington, DC, including members of intelligence services, in response to actions that include the SolarWinds hack. The White House also imposed sanctions on 32 "entities and individuals" as an answer to reported 2020 election interference attempts.

Biden formally blamed the Russia-backed cyberattack group Cozy Bear (aka APT29) as the culprit behind the SolarWinds breach. The FBI, NSA and CISA also issued a joint cybersecurity advisory warning of vulnerabilities Russian intelligence used to compromise networks. The Treasury Department, meanwhile, declared that six Russian technology companies were involved in creating the tools to enable "malicious cyber activities."

The American government was looking at further steps to protect the technology supply chain against "further exploitation" by Russia, the White House added.

The actions also encompass a number of non-technology concerns, such as bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan, Russia's ongoing actions in Crimea and the attempts to silence Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Russia has historically denied accusations of hacking and election interference regardless of evidence. It's not certain how the country will react to these latest US measures apart from denials, but it's safe to say President Putin is unlikely to simply drop any hacking or interference campaigns when past sanctions haven't changed his stance.