MOSCOW — The Russian government plans to expel 10 American diplomats and ban other American officials from traveling to Russia in retaliation for sanctions announced this week by the Biden administration, Russia’s foreign minister said Friday.
Though Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, said other measures would be announced later, limiting the initial response to just diplomatic expulsions suggested the Russian government did not intend an escalation that could worsen already dismal relations between the countries.
Ten American diplomats stationed in Russia will be asked to leave the country and eight so far unnamed officials in the Biden administration will be banned from entering Russia, Mr. Lavrov said.
President Biden suggested the sanctions would signal a harder line toward Moscow, though he left a door open for dialogue, after years of deferential treatment under the Trump administration. Mr. Lavrov called the sanctions an “absolutely unfriendly and unprovoked action.”
But if the Russian response is largely limited to the expulsions and travel bans, it would be seen as a positive sign that the Kremlin does not intend to raise the diplomatic stakes and may remain open to the invitation to a summit meeting, possibly in a European country sometime over the summer, that Mr. Biden extended to President Vladimir V. Putin this week.
MASLOVKA, Russia — Deep in a pine forest in southern Russia, military trucks, their silhouettes blurred by camouflage netting, appear through the trees. Soldiers in four-wheel-drive vehicles creep along rutted dirt roads. And outside a newly pitched tent camp, sentries, Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders, pace back and forth.
Over the past month or so, Russia has deployed what analysts are calling the largest military buildup along the border with Ukraine since the outset of Kyiv’s war with Russian-backed separatists seven years ago.
It is far from a clandestine operation: During a trip to southern Russia by a New York Times journalist, evidence of the buildup was everywhere to be seen.
The mobilization is setting off alarms in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, European capitals and Washington, and is increasingly seen as an early foreign policy test for the Biden administration, which just hit Moscow with a new round of sanctions. Russia responded almost immediately, announcing on Friday that it would expel 10 U.S. diplomats.
“Solar Winds” hacking of government agencies and corporations, various disinformation efforts and the annexation of Crimea.
told European lawmakers on Wednesday that Russia is now garrisoning about 110,000 soldiers near the Ukrainian border. In Washington, the director of the C.I.A. told Congress that it remains unclear whether the buildup is a show of force or preparation for something more ominous.
Even if the goal of the buildup remains unclear, military analysts say it was most certainly meant to be seen. A show of force is hardly a good show if nobody watches.
“They are deploying in a very visible way,” said Michael Kofman, a senior researcher at CNA, a think tank based in Arlington, Va., who has been monitoring the military activity. “They are doing it overtly, so we can see it. It is intentional.”
foreign reporters have been showing up daily to watch the buzz of activity.
Conflict Intelligence Team, a group of independent Russian military analysts.
Gigantic military trucks are parked within sight of the roads, which have, strangely, remained open to public traffic.
news release to announce the redeployment of the naval landing craft closer to Ukraine, in case anybody was curious. The vessels sailed along rivers and canals connecting the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. The ministry posted pictures.
forces for a possible incursion.
But Mr. Burns said U.S. officials were still trying to determine if the Kremlin was preparing for military action or merely sending a signal.
For decades, Senator Lindsey Graham traveled the world with his friend John McCain, visiting war zones and meeting with foreign allies and adversaries, before returning home to promote the Republican gospel of an internationalist, hawkish foreign policy.
But this week, after President Biden announced that troops would leave Afghanistan no later than Sept. 11, Mr. Graham took the podium in the Senate press gallery and hinted that spreading the party’s message had become a bit lonely.
“I miss John McCain a lot but probably no more than today,” Mr. Graham said. “If John were with us, I’d be speaking second.”
Mr. McCain, the onetime prisoner of war in Vietnam, in many ways embodied a distinctive Republican worldview: a commitment to internationalism — and confrontation when necessary — that stemmed from the Cold War and endured through the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush before evolving after the Sept. 11 attacks to account for the threat of global terrorism.
has warned that a full withdrawal from Afghanistan could pose a significant national security threat.
For Republicans, the shift inward comes as their long dominance over issues of national security and international affairs is waning. Mr. Trump rejected Republican foreign policy orthodoxy but largely struggled to articulate a cohesive countervailing view beyond a vague notion of putting America first. He embraced strongmen, cast longtime allies as free riders and favored a transactional approach, rejecting any notion of the kind of values-driven foreign policy that had defined the party for decades.
The party’s foreign policy establishment found itself exiled from Mr. Trump’s government and fighting for relevance against an insurgent isolationist party base.
“To say that there is a single Republican foreign policy position is to miss what’s been happening within the conservative movement on these issue for the last 20 years,” said Lanhee Chen, a Hoover Institution scholar and policy adviser to a number of prominent Republican officials. “The characters change, the terminology changes, but the differences remain.”
Yet, that old debate carries new political resonance for the party, as it confronts the political need to develop a platform that goes beyond simply opposing whatever the Democratic administration puts in place.
“Anytime you don’t have the White House and you don’t have control of the Congress, it is a time to look inward and figure out what the predominate view is,” Mr. Chen said.
A survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs last year found that Republican voters preferred a more nationalist approach, valuing economic self-sufficiency, and taking a unilateral approach to diplomacy and global engagement
When asked about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, 58 percent of Republicans surveyed said the outbreak showed the United States should be less reliant on other countries, compared with just 18 percent of Democrats who said the same. Close to half of Republicans agreed that “the United States is rich and powerful enough to go it alone, without getting involved in the problems of the rest of the world,” andtwo-thirds said they preferred that the country produce its own goods, as opposed to buying or selling overseas.
is emerging as the most outspoken critic of Mr. Biden among former top Trump officials.
Of course, as the Fox News hosts pointed out, had Mr. Trump won re-election, the troops would have been coming home next month — with the full support of Mr. Pompeo, if not many other Republican leaders.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration revealed on Thursday that a business associate of Trump campaign officials in 2016 provided campaign polling data to Russian intelligence services, the strongest evidence to date that Russian spies had penetrated the inner workings of the Trump campaign.
The revelation, made public in a Treasury Department document announcing new sanctions against Russia, established for the first time that private meetings and communications between the campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and their business associate were a direct pipeline from the campaign to Russian spies at a time when the Kremlin was engaged in a covert effort to sabotage the 2016 presidential election.
Previous government investigations have identified the Trump aides’ associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, as a Russian intelligence operative, and Mr. Manafort’s decision to provide him with internal polling data was one of the mysteries that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, sought to unravel during his two-year investigation into Russia’s election meddling.
“During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy,” the Treasury Department said in a news release. “Additionally, Kilimnik sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
new sanctions against Russia are in response to the Kremlin’s election interference, efforts to hack American government agencies and companies, and other acts of aggression against the United States.
The sanctions now make it extremely difficult for Mr. Kilimnik, who was indicted by the Justice Department in 2018 on charges of obstruction of justice, to engage in financial transactions that may involve the United States.
It is unclear how long American spy agencies have held the conclusion about Mr. Kilimnik. Senior Trump administration officials, fearing Mr. Trump’s wrath, repeatedly tried keep from the public any information that seemed to show Mr. Trump’s affinity for Russia or its president, Vladimir V. Putin.
that scrutinized the links between the Trump campaign and Russia — calling Mr. Kilimnik a “Russian intelligence officer.”
The report contained several significant redactions that appeared related to Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik but said that Mr. Manafort’s willingness to share the information with him “represented a grave counterintelligence threat.”
The report called the relationship between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik “the single most direct tie between senior Trump campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services.”
The Senate report portrayed a Trump campaign stacked with businessmen and other advisers who had little government experience and “presented attractive targets for foreign influence, creating notable counterintelligence vulnerabilities.”
A New York Times article in 2017 said that there had been numerous interactions between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence during the year before the election. F.B.I. officials had disputed the report, but both the Senate report and the Treasury Department document confirm the article’s findings.
The assertion that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that sought to disrupt the 2016 election has long been both a Kremlin talking point and a claim by Mr. Trump that foreign actors tried to help his opponent, Hillary Clinton, rather than him.
is offering $250,000 for information that could lead to his arrest.
The Biden administration on Thursday barred American banks from purchasing newly issued Russian government debt, signaling the deployment of a key weapon in Washington’s intensifying conflict with Moscow — threatening Russia’s access to international finance.
The curbs on debt were part of new measures against Russia that primarily involved sanctions on dozens of entities and individuals and the expulsion of 10 diplomats from the Russian embassy in Washington. The moves aim to exploit Russia’s weak economy to pressure Moscow to relent in its campaign to disrupt American political life and menace Ukraine. The limits on debt purchases, which apply to bonds issued by the Russian government after June 14, could raise the cost of borrowing within the Russian economy, limiting investment and economic growth.
For now, that threat remains minuscule. Russian government debt held outside the country amounts to about $41 billion, according to the Russian central bank — a relative pittance in the global economy. For comparison, the U.S. Treasury issued a total of $274 billion in sovereign debt over the first three months of this year alone.
Russia’s government sells most of its debt domestically, and it finances much of its operations through the sale of energy. American investors hold only 7 percent of Russian government debt denominated in rubles, according to Oxford Economics in London.
European business interests seek access to the potentially vast Iranian marketplace. Russia, by contrast, is a major supplier of energy across Western Europe. Russia sits on the region’s doorstep, making European leaders — especially Germany — loath toward greater conflict.
Limiting Russia’s access to the international bond markets amounts to “nibbling around the edges,” said Simon Miles, a Russia expert at Duke University. A meaningful hit would threaten Russia’s market for natural gas in Western Europe.
severed Iran from the global financial system, something Washington could bring about given that the American dollar is the world’s reserve currency, the means of exchange in transactions around the planet. Any bank anywhere on earth that handled business for Iran risked being cut off from the international payment network and denied access to dollars.
Russia has very limited need to borrow money from abroad, having cut its deficits sharply following sanctions that were imposed after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“We’ve had a period of austerity, fiscal austerity, ever since that sanctions shock,” said Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance, a trade association representing international banks. “They prepared themselves.”
Thursday’s order on Russian debt applies only to American financial institutions, but it could prompt multinational companies beyond the United States to recalculate the risks of transacting with the Russian government.
“It puts them on notice, if you like,” said Mr. Nixey. “Every company that is significantly in Russia is listening to this very, very carefully and wondering if it is a good idea, reputationally or in terms of political risk, whether they should continue doing business at the same volume that they are.”
Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting from Moscow.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration warned the Kremlin on Thursday over the C.I.A.’s conclusion that Russia had covertly offered payments to militants to encourage more killings of American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, delivering the diplomatic admonition as it imposed sanctions on Moscow over its hacking and election interference.
But the administration stopped short of inflicting sanctions on any Russian officials over the suspected bounties, making clear that the available evidence about what happened — primarily what Afghan detainees told interrogators — continues to fall short of definitively proving that Russia paid money to reward attacks.
The intelligence community, a senior administration official told reporters, “assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019, and perhaps earlier, including through financial incentives and compensation.”
The New York Times first reported last summer the existence of the C.I.A.’s assessment and that the National Security Council had led an interagency process to develop a range of response options — but that months had passed and the Trump White House had failed to authorize any response, not even a diplomatic protest.
financial transfers, and that the C.I.A. placed medium confidence in its conclusion.
But, it also reported, the National Security Agency — which is focused on electronic surveillance — placed lower confidence in the assessment, citing the lack of smoking-gun electronic intercepts. Analysts at two other agencies that were consulted, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Defense Intelligence Agency, were also said to split, with the former backing the C.I.A. and the latter the National Security Agency.
Former intelligence officials, including in testimony about the issue before Congress, have noted that it is rare in the murky world of intelligence to have courtroom levels of proof beyond a reasonable doubt about what an adversary is covertly doing.
The re-scrub of available evidence by President Biden’s administration had not uncovered anything new and significant enough to bring greater clarity to that muddied intelligence portrait, so the disagreement over confidence levels remained, an official familiar with internal deliberations said.
The Biden official’s explanation to reporters dovetailed with that account.
Intelligence agencies, the official explained, “have low to moderate confidence in this judgment in part because it relies on detainee reporting, and due to the challenging operating environment, in Afghanistan.”
fled to Russia — possibly while using a passport linked to a Russian spy agency.
The New Washington
As a result, the detainees who recounted to interrogators what they were told about the purported arrangement were not themselves in the room for conversations with Russian intelligence officials. Without an electronic intercept, either, there was a pattern of evidence that fit the C.I.A.’s assessment but no explicit eyewitness account of the interactions.
The Russian government has denied that it covertly offered or paid bounties to drive up attacks on American and coalition troops in Afghanistan.
The public disclosure of the C.I.A.’s assessment — and the White House’s months of inaction in response — prompted a bipartisan uproar in Congress. Defending the inaction, President Donald J. Trump labeled the reporting “a hoax” and his White House denied that he had been told about it, seeking to dismiss the intelligence assessment as too weak to be taken seriously.
In fact, it had been included in his written intelligence briefing in late February 2020 and disseminated more broadly to the intelligence community in early May.
But it was also true that analysts at the National Security Agency disagreed with the C.I.A. over how much confidence to place in the agency’s conclusion, based on the imperfect array of available evidence. The Trump administration played up that split.
In testimony before Congress about the issue, Michael J. Morell, a former acting C.I.A. director, disputed the White House’s suggestion that such an assessment had to be unanimously backed by intelligence agencies to be taken seriously.
In previous administrations, he said last July, if the intelligence community assessed such information at any level of confidence, officials would have told both the president and congressional leaders immediately about that judgment and any dissent. If the confidence level were low, he said, an administration would seek more information before acting, while a medium- or high-confidence assessment would most likely result in a response.
never raised the issue of the bounty intelligence in his conversations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. But after the C.I.A.’s assessment became public, senior military and diplomatic officials, including the secretary of state at the time, Mike Pompeo, warned their counterparts after all.
“If the Russians are offering money to kill Americans or, for that matter, other Westerners as well, there will be an enormous price to pay. That’s what I shared with Foreign Minister Lavrov,” Mr. Pompeo said in August during a trip to the Czech Republic. “I know our military has talked to their senior leaders, as well. We won’t brook that. We won’t tolerate that.”
Still, in testimony before Congress and in other remarks, senior Pentagon officials — caught between not wanting to aggravate the White House and not wanting to appear indifferent about the safety of troops — said they would be outraged if the C.I.A. assessment was correct, but also had yet to see definitive proof.
“It is not closed because we never close investigations that involve threats or potential threats against U.S. forces,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, said late last year when asked about the status of the inquiry. “We’re looking at it very hard.”
Mr. Biden attacked Mr. Trump for failing to do anything about the C.I.A. assessment, portraying it as part of a strange pattern of deference he said Mr. Trump had shown toward Russia. Mr. Biden mentioning the matter in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination and brought it up in his first call as president with Mr. Putin.
While the sanctions imposed on Thursday were based on alleged Russian misdeeds other than the suspected bounties, the senior administration official said the diplomatic action about the available information “puts a burden on the Russian government to explain its actions, and take steps to address this disturbing pattern of behavior.”
The official added, “We cannot and will not accept the targeting of our personnel like this.”
Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.
Near the peak of the American war in Afghanistan, a former chief of neighboring Pakistan’s military intelligence — an institution allied both to the U.S. military and to its Taliban adversaries — came on a talk show called “Joke Night” in 2014. He put a bold prediction on the record.
“When history is written,” declared Gen. Hamid Gul, who led the feared spy service known as the I.S.I. during the last stretch of the Cold War in the 1980s, “it will be stated that the I.S.I. defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America.”
“Then there will be another sentence,” General Gul added after a brief pause, delivering his punchline to loud applause. “The I.S.I., with the help of America, defeated America.”
In President Biden’s decision to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan by September, Pakistan’s powerful military establishment finally gets its wish after decades of bloody intrigue: the exit of a disruptive superpower from a backyard where it had established strong influence through a friendly Taliban regime before the U.S. invaded in 2001.
social unrest, agitation by oppressed minorities and a percolating Islamic militancy of its own that it is struggling to contain.
If Afghanistan descends into chaos, Pakistanis are bound to feel the burden again just as they did after Afghanistan disintegrated in the 1990s following the Soviet withdrawal. Millions of Afghan refugees crossed the porous border to seek relative safety in Pakistan’s cities and towns.
thousands of religious seminaries spread across Pakistan. Those groups have shown no hesitation in antagonizing the country’s government.
bitter about the double role played by the I.S.I. The killing of Bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. forces in 2011 was one rare moment when those tensions played out in public.
But Pakistan’s generals were also successful in making themselves indispensable to the United States — offering a nuclear-armed ally in a region where China, Russia and Islamist militants all had interests. Effectively, it meant that the United States chose to turn a blind eye as its Pakistani allies helped the Taliban wear down American and allied forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistan was 50 times more important to the United States than Afghanistan was.
In recent years, as American officials sought a way to leave Afghanistan, they again had to turn to Pakistan — to pressure the Taliban to come to peace talks, and to lend help when the United States needed to move against Al Qaeda or the Islamic State affiliate in the region.
With the U.S. intention to leave publicly declared, Pakistan did away with any semblance of denial that the Taliban leadership was sheltering there. Taliban leaders flew from Pakistani cities to engage in peace talks in Qatar. When negotiations reached delicate moments that required consultations with field commanders, they flew back to Pakistan.
When the United States finally signed a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban in February last year, the mood in some circles in Pakistan was one of open celebration.
Pakistan’s former defense minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, who had repeatedly visited the halls of power in Washington as a U.S. ally, tweeted a photo of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meeting Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban deputy at the talks in Qatar.
“You might have might on your side, but God is with us,” Mr. Asif said in the tweet, ending with a cry of victory. “Allah u Akbar!”
But there are signs that extremist groups within Pakistan have already felt emboldened by the Taliban’s perceived victory, giving a glimpse of the trouble likely to be in store for Pakistani officials.
The once-defeated Pakistani Taliban have increased their activities in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Ambushes against security forces have become more frequent.
Just how wide the problem of extremism might stretch has been on display in recent days on the streets of two of Pakistan’s main cities, Lahore and Karachi.
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a movement that sees itself as protecting Islam against blasphemy, thrashed uniformed members of Pakistani forces and took dozens hostage for hours. Videos emerged of Pakistani army officers trying to reason with the violent protesters. Officials said two policemen had been killed, and 300 wounded. The showdown continues, as the government moved to ban the group as a terrorist outfit.
“The state was not able to control the stick-yielding and stone-hurling members of the T.L.P. that paralyzed most parts of the country for two days,” said Afrasiab Khattak, a former chairman of Pakistan’s human rights commission. “How will they handle trained, guns-carrying Taliban militants?”
Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.
BRUSSELS — Iran and the other signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal resumed negotiations in Vienna on Thursday to revive the accord, though the atmosphere was fraught in the aftermath of the apparent Israeli attack on a major uranium enrichment site in Iran.
Senior diplomats involved in the talks have agreed that the working groups meant to bring both Iran and the United States into compliance with the deal had made progress.
But after the meeting on Thursday, the head of China’s delegation, Wang Qun, called for a faster pace and fewer distractions.
“We do think that all these developments have reinforced our conviction that what is needed most now as a top priority is to do away with any disruptive factors and pick up the pace of negotiation here,” said Mr. Wang, China’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
said in a Twitter post that the “general impression is positive.” He said this meeting would be followed “by a number of informal meetings in different formats, including at expert level.”
The talks have been overshadowed in recent days by Iran’s response to an attack at its Natanz uranium-enrichment facility on Sunday. Tehran decided to further increase enrichment to 60 percent, a major step toward the 90 percent enrichment that is considered suitable for a nuclear bomb and a flagrant breach of the limits of the 2015 accord. Iran also said it would replace damaged centrifuges at the Natanz facility with more advanced models that were banned under the accord.
The Natanz attack was said to have been carried out by Israel, which has regularly criticized the 2015 deal as weak and unlikely to restrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. U.S. officials have said Israel was responsible for the attack and have denied any American involvement.
The meeting in Vienna involved senior diplomats from Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia under the chairmanship of the European Union. Senior American officials are in a nearby hotel, because President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from the accord in 2018.
The three European nations, joined by the United States, have sharply criticized Iran’s moves in recent days, calling them “provocative” and “particularly regrettable” in the face of progress at the Vienna meetings.
“Iran’s dangerous recent communication is contrary to the constructive spirit and good faith of these discussions,” they noted in a statement, adding that Iran’s enrichment decision was “a serious development since the production of highly enriched uranium constitutes an important step in the production of a nuclear weapon.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, criticized Iran’s intentions. “I have to tell you, this step calls into question Iran’s seriousness with regard to the nuclear talks, just as it underscores the imperative of returning to mutual compliance” with the nuclear deal.
Iran maintains that its nuclear program is purely civilian.
The talks are designed to bring the United States back into compliance with the 2015 deal by negotiating what economic sanctions should be lifted. A second working group is focusing on how to bring Iran back into compliance, which Iran has deliberately broken as a “remedial” measure since the economic benefits of the accord have been denied it.
Those talks are said to have been positive so far, but Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was dismissive of them in comments made on Wednesday marking the first day of Ramadan in Iran. He said it was “not worth looking at” initial offers for the lifting of sanctions, saying that “the offers they provide are usually arrogant and humiliating.”
He also warned that time could be running out. “The talks shouldn’t become talks of attrition,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “They shouldn’t be in a way that parties drag on and prolong the talks. This is harmful to the country.”
He also said that Iran was prepared to return quickly to compliance if agreement could be found in Vienna and again denied that Iran would ever build nuclear weapons.
The leader of the Iranian delegation, Abbas Araghchi, a deputy foreign minister, has been busy in Vienna holding bilateral talks in the last few days, rejecting speculation that Iran might withdraw from the negotiations. The impression among other diplomats involved is that Iran is committed to a deal, as is the United States.
How to get there and how to synchronize the moves of both sides in an atmosphere of mistrust is the task of the Vienna meetings. Whether that succeeds, or how long it will take, is unclear. But both Iran and the United States have said that they want a successful conclusion.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Thursday announced tough new sanctions on Russia and formally blamed the country’s premier intelligence agency for the sophisticated hacking operation that breached American government agencies and the nation’s largest companies.
In the broadest effort yet to give more teeth to financial sanctions — which in the past have failed to deter Russian activity — the sanctions are aimed at choking off lending to the Russian government.
In an executive order, President Biden announced a series of additional steps — sanctions on 32 entities and individuals for disinformation efforts and for carrying out the Russian government’s interference in the 2020 presidential election. Ten Russian diplomats, most of them identified as intelligence operatives, were expelled from the Russian Embassy in Washington. The country also joined with European partners to sanction eight people and entities associated with Russia’s occupation in Crimea.
The announcement is the first time that the U.S. government had placed the blame for the “SolarWinds” hacking attack right at the Kremlin’s feet, saying it was masterminded by the SVR, one of the Russian intelligence agencies that was also involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee six years ago. The finding comports with the findings of private cybersecurity firms.
SolarWinds; to the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia offered bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan; and to Russia’s longstanding effort to interfere in U.S. elections on behalf of Donald J. Trump. The key to the sanctions’ effectiveness, officials concede, will be whether European and Asian allies go along with that ban, and whether the United States decides to seek to extend the sanctions by threatening to cut off financial institutions around the world that deal in those Russian bonds, much as it has enforced “secondary sanctions” against those who do business with Iran.
In a conversation with President Vladimir V. Putin on Tuesday, Mr. Biden warned that the United States was going to act to protect its interests, but also raised the prospect of a summit meeting between the two leaders. It is unclear whether Russia will now feel the need to retaliate for the sanctions and expulsions. American officials are already alarmed by a troop buildup along the border of Ukraine and Russian naval activity in the Black Sea.
And inside American intelligence agencies there have been warnings that the SolarWinds attack — which enabled the SVR to place “back doors” in the computer networks — could give Russia a pathway for malicious cyber activity against government agencies and corporations.
Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, has often said that sanctions alone will not be sufficient, and said there would be “seen and unseen” actions against Russia. Mr. Biden, before his inauguration, suggested the United States would respond in kind to the hack, which seemed to suggest some kind of clandestine cyber response. But it may take weeks or months for any evidence that activity to come to light, if it ever does.
SolarWinds attack because that was the name of the Texas-based company whose network management software was subtlety altered by the SVR before the firms customers downloaded updated version. But the presidential statement alludes to the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia offered bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan and explicitly links the sanctions to Russia’s longstanding effort to interfere in U.S. elections on behalf of Donald J. Trump.
In the SolarWinds breach, Russian government hackers infected network-management software used by thousands of government entities and private firms in what officials believe was, at least in its opening stages, an intelligence-gathering mission.
The SVR, also known as the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, is primarily known for espionage operations. The statement said American intelligence agencies have “high confidence in its assessment of attribution” of responsibility to Russia.
In an advisory, the United States described for private companies specific details about the software vulnerabilities that the Russian intelligence agencies used to hack into the systems of companies and governments. Most of those have been widely known since FireEye, a private security firm, first found evidence of the hack in December. Until FireEye’s discovery, the actions had been entirely missed by the U.S. government, largely because the attack was launched from inside the United States — where, as the Russians know well, American intelligence agencies are prohibited from operating.
Previous sanctions against Russia have been more narrowly drawn and have largely affected individuals. As such, the Kremlin has largely appeared to absorb or shrug off the penalties without changing its behavior.
trading in Moscow before the announcement, the ruble’s exchange rate to the dollar dropped about 1 percent, reflecting nervousness over how the sanctions would play out. The main stock index, Mosbirzhi, also fell just over 1 percent.
The fallout so far reflects years of Russian government policy to harden its financial defenses against sanctions and low oil prices by running budget surpluses and salting away billions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds.
Balanced budgets have been a core economic policy principle of Mr. Putin, who came to power more than 20 years ago during a post-Soviet debt crisis that he saw as humiliating for Russia and vowed not to repeat.
Still, analysts say strains from the past year of pandemic and the drop in the global price of oil, a major Russian export commodity, have left Russia more vulnerable to sanctions targeting sovereign debt. By the first quarter of this year, however, a recovery in oil prices had helped return the federal budget to surplus.
Michael D. Shear and David E. Sanger reported from Washington, Steven Erlanger from Brussels, and Andrew E. Kramer from Moscow.
filed first-time claims for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, a decrease of 153,000 from the previous week.
In addition, 132,000 filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program that covers freelancers, part-timers and others who do not routinely qualify for state benefits. That was a decline of 20,000 from the previous week.
Neither figure is seasonally adjusted.
In another sign of the recovery underway, retail sales surged in March, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, as Americans spent their latest round of government stimulus checks and the continued roll out of coronavirus vaccines lured more people back into stores.
The 9.8 percent increase last month was a strong comeback from the nearly 3 percent drop in February.
With the pandemic’s end seemingly in sight, the economy is poised for a robust comeback. But weekly applications for unemployment claims have remained stubbornly high for months, frustrating the recovery even as businesses reopen and vaccination rates increase.
“The job market conditions for job seekers have really improved extremely quickly between January and now,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the job site ZipRecruiter. “But there are still huge barriers to returning to work.”
Jobless claims for the next few months could remain much higher than they were before the pandemic as the labor market adjusts to a new normal.
Concerns about workplace safety persist, especially for workers who are not yet vaccinated. Many children are still attending schools remotely, complicating the full-time work prospects for their caregivers.
But there is hope on the horizon as those barriers begin to fall. President Biden moved up the deadline for states to make all adults eligible for vaccination to April 19, and every state has complied. Students who have been learning remotely will begin to return to the classroom in earnest.
“This was the deepest, swiftest recession ever, but it’s also turning into the fastest recovery,” Ms. Pollak said. “And I don’t think we should lose sight of that just because some of the measures are a little stubborn.”
Retail sales surged in March, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, as Americans spent their latest round of government stimulus checks and the continued roll out of coronavirus vaccines lured more people back into stores.
The 9.8 percent increase last month was a strong comeback from the nearly 3 percent drop in February, when previous stimulus money had dissipated and a series of winter storms made travel difficult across much of the United States.
The rebound in March sales shows how, a year after the nation’s economy locked down to prevent the spread of the virus, consumer spending remains highly dependent on government support. It also reflects that many areas of consumption frozen by the pandemic have bounced back. Sales of clothing and accessories rose 18 percent, while restaurants and bars saw a 13 percent increase.
President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law last month, provides direct payments of $1,400 to lower-income Americans. Many of these checks began arriving in households toward the end of last month, when economists saw signs that spending was ramping up again, such as increased hotel occupancy and travel through airports.
Economists at Morgan Stanley had predicted that core retail sales would jump 6.5 percent in March, driven by the stimulus checks that started arriving in people’s bank accounts around March 17. The investment bank said 30 percent of consumers tend to spend their checks within the first 10 days, suggesting that many other consumers have yet to spend their checks, which could strengthen April sales.
More broadly, American consumers are also feeling increasingly optimistic as more people become vaccinated and venture out more frequently. One measure of consumer confidence, tabulated by the Conference Board, said confidence increased about 20 points in March from February, fueled by increased income and stronger business and employment expectations.
Reuters will begin charging for access to its website as it tries to capture a slice of the digital subscription business.
The company, one of the largest news organizations in the world, announced the new paywall on Thursday, as well as a redesigned website aimed at a “professional” audience wanting business, financial and general news.
After registration and a free preview period, a subscription to Reuters.com will cost $34.99 a month, the same as Bloomberg’s digital subscription. The Wall Street Journal’s digital subscription costs $38.99 a month, while The New York Times costs $18.42 monthly.
Reuters.com attracts 41 million unique visitors a month. Months of audience research showed that those readers were divided in two separate groups: those wanting breaking news and professionals looking for context and analysis about how news affected their industry, Josh London, chief marketing officer at Reuters, said in an interview.
Reuters will roll out new sections on its website for subscribers in coming weeks that include coverage of legal news, sustainable business, energy, health care and the auto industry. It also plans to introduce industry-specific newsletters.
Mr. London described the new website as “the largest digital transformation at Reuters in a decade.” He declined to provide specifics on digital subscription goals but said that it represented “a major opportunity for us.”
Arlyn Gajilan, the digital news director at Reuters, said she expected to expand the digital team working on the revamped website.
On Monday, Reuters announced that Alessandra Galloni, a global managing editor, would become its next editor in chief. Ms. Galloni, who will be the first woman to helm the news agency in its history, starts her new role on Monday. She takes over from Stephen J. Adler, who retired after running Reuters for a decade.
Ms. Gajilan said that Ms. Galloni had been closely involved in the new direction of Reuters.com.
“She’s a very strong advocate for all things digital at Reuters,” Ms. Gajilan said.
U.S. stocks are set to rise when trading begins on Thursday as more companies report first-quarter earnings and retail sales data is expected to show a big increase in spending in March.
The S&P 500 was expected to open 0.5 percent higher, futures indicated.
After a bumper market debut, Coinbase shares rose 11 percent in premarket trading. On Wednesday, the cryptocurrency exchange ended its first day of trading at $328.28 a share, valuing the company at nearly $86 billion — more than 10 times its last valuation as a private company.
Shares in Bank of America rose 2.5 percent in premarket trading after the company reported better-than-expected revenue from sales and trading. The bank joins its peers in reporting a jump in earnings. On Wednesday, executives at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo all delivered upbeat economic forecasts.
Retail sales rose 5.8 percent in March, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg, rebounding from a 3 percent drop the previous month.
Elsewhere in markets
Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes dropped to 1.61 percent. On Wednesday, Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, reiterated the central bank’s intention of keeping monetary policy accommodative for a long time. He said the bank would probably slow its bond-buying program “well before” it lifts its policy interest rate.
European stock indexes also rose. The Stoxx Europe 600 index increased for a third straight day. It was up 0.3 percent to a record high.
The Russian ruble dropped 1.2 percent against the dollar on Thursday. The Biden administration is expected to announce a string of measures against Russia, including financial sanctions for the hacking of government and private networks and a range of other activity.
Shortages of semiconductors, fueled by pandemic interruptions and production issues at multibillion-dollar chip factories, have sent shock waves through the economy. Questions about chips are reverberating among both businesses and policymakers trying to navigate the world’s dependence on the small components.
Most attention has focused on temporary closings of big U.S. car plants. But the chips are in everything from cash registers and kitchen appliances, and the problem is affecting many other sectors, particularly the server systems and PCs used to deliver and consume internet services that became crucial during the pandemic, Don Clark reports for The New York Times.
“Every aspect of human existence is going online, and every aspect of that is running on semiconductors,” said Pat Gelsinger, the new chief executive of the chip maker Intel who attended the meeting with the president on Monday. “People are begging us for more.”
The chip shortage potentially affects just about any company adding communications or computing features to products. Many examples were described in 90 comments filed by companies and trade groups to a supply chain review by President Biden, including a laundry list of needs from industry giants like Amazon and Boeing.
Dan Rozycki is the president of a small engineering firm, that sells small sensors used to monitor construction sites to ensure concrete is hardening properly. His firm is for now among the lucky chip users. It planned ahead and has enough chips to keep making the roughly 50,000 sensors it supplies each year to construction sites. But his distributor has warned him it might not be able to deliver more of them until late 2022, he said.
“Is that going to halt those projects?” Mr. Rozycki asked. He is scouring the market for other distributors that might have the two needed chips in stock. Other possibilities include redesigning the sensors to use different chips.
An international coalition of 35 children’s and consumer groups called on Instagram on Thursday to scrap its plans to develop a version of the popular photo-sharing app for users under age 13.
Instagram’s push for a separate children’s app comes after years of complaints from legislators and parents that the platform has been slow to identify underage users and protect them from sexual predators and bullying.
But in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook — the company that owns the photo-sharing service — the nonprofit groups warned that a children’s version of Instagram would not mitigate such problems. While 10- to 12-year-olds with Instagram accounts would be unlikely to switch to a “babyish version” of the app, the groups said, it could hook even younger users on endless routines of photo-scrolling and body-image shame.
“While collecting valuable family data and cultivating a new generation of Instagram users may be good for Facebook’s bottom line,” the groups, led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston, said in the letter to Mr. Zuckerberg, “it will likely increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform’s manipulative and exploitative features.”
The coalition of nonprofit groups also includes the Africa Digital Rights’ Hub in Ghana; the Australian Council on Children and the Media; the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington; Common Sense Media in San Francisco; the Consumer Federation of America; and the 5Rights Foundation in Britain.
Stephanie Otway, a Facebook spokeswoman, said that Instagram was in the early stages of developing a service for children as part of an effort to keep those under 13 off its main platform. Although Instagram requires users to be at least 13, many younger children have lied about their age to set up accounts.
Ms. Otway said that company would not show ads in any Instagram product developed for children younger than 13, and that it planned to consult with experts on children’s health and safety on the project. Instagram is also working on new age-verification methods to catch younger users trying to lie about their age, she said.
“The reality is that kids are online,” Ms. Otway said. “They want to connect with their family and friends, have fun and learn, and we want to help them do that in a way that is safe and age-appropriate.”
A former editor at Vanity Fair has been working to create a new digital publication, in which writers will share in subscription revenue — Vanity Fair meets Substack. The new company behind the publication, Heat Media, hopes to unveil it in the coming months, four people with knowledge of the matter said. The start-up is partly the brainchild of Jon Kelly, a former editor at Vanity Fair. One of the backers is the private equity firm TPG, which would take three seats on the Heat Media board, the people said. Another investor is 40 North, a related investment arm of Standard Industries, a global industrials company, the people said. Heat Media has raised around $7 million so far, according to the people.
Kimberly Godwin, a veteran CBS News executive, was named the next president of ABC News on Wednesday, making her the first Black woman to lead a major broadcast network’s news division. Ms. Godwin succeeds James Goldston, who announced his departure from ABC in January. She will begin in her job in early May. Ms. Godwin most recently served as CBS’s executive vice president of news.