Biden administration levels stiff new sanctions against Russia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown in a close-up photograph wearing a dark suit and tie and looking off to his right.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Coordination Center of the Russian Government in Moscow, Russia, April 13, 2021.

Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

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The White House has announced sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of Russian diplomats in response to Moscow's interference in US elections and the cyber breach to vital federal government agencies last year.

The measures announced Thursday include sanctions on six Russian companies that support the country's cyber activities and on 32 entities and individuals for disinformation campaigns and carrying on government interference in the 2020 US presidential election. The executive order also expels 10 Russian diplomats, some of whom are suspected intelligence officers.

The announcement includes the first retaliatory measures against Moscow for the cyberhack known as the "SolarWinds" breach, in which Russian hackers are believed to have used malicious code that enabled them to access the networks of at least nine US agencies and US companies. The US additionally named the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and several connected entities as being responsible for SolarWinds. US officials believe this was an intelligence-gathering operation.

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Mumbai, India, and other parts of the western state of Maharashtra hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic are facing tighter restrictions for 15 days to control the surge of COVID-19 infections. Under the measure, most industries, businesses and public places are closed. With no job prospects due to closures, thousands of workers are leaving the metropolis. 

And, after reports of very rare but potentially dangerous blood clots thought to impact 1 in a million recipients of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the US, South Africa has paused the use of the single-shot jab, leaving the country without any shots for its vaccination effort. South Africa has more than 1.5 million confirmed cases and so far, it has inoculated 290,000 health care workers with the J&J vaccine. The country’s health minister has said there are no local reports of blood clots. Large vaccination efforts planned to start next month are dependent on the delivery of J&J and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

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Afghans have five months before US troops depart and many see that period as the last chance to push the peace process forward. And, the police shooting of Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man killed by an officer during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis, is raising questions once again about why policing in the US can be so deadly — and how other nations do things differently. Also, an island in Thailand has a creative way to lure back foreigners — without bringing in COVID-19.

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