Trump Administration Sanctions Russia for Election Interference and Cyberattacks

March 15, 2018 Updated: March 16, 2018    

The Trump administration sanctioned 19 Russians and five Russian entities on Thursday, March 15, for attempted election interference, cyber attacks, and intrusions into critical infrastructure.

The Department of the Treasury will block the property of the people and entities sanctioned and Americans are, in general, prohibited from doing business with them.

“The Administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin testifies at a congressional hearing on the president’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposals in Washington on Feb. 15, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The sanctions list includes the 13 Russians and 3 Russian entities named in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment last month. Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The indictment contained no allegation of collusion and no allegation that the Russians altered the outcome of the race, according to Mueller’s boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Russia’s two main government intelligence agencies, the FSB and the GRU, as well as six GRU operatives, were also sanctioned in connection with the cyber attacks. The six GRU operatives are Grigoriy Molchanov, Igor Kostyukov, Igor Korobov, Sergey Gizunov, Vladimir Alexseyev, and Sergei Afanasyev.

The Treasury named NotPetya as one of the destructive cyberattacks that led to the sanctions, calling it “the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history.” The hack caused billions of dollars in damage worldwide and disrupted global shipping, trade, and medicine production. In the United States, several hospitals were unable to create electronic records, according to the statement.

A man walks past the building of the headquarters of the Russian General Staff’s Main Intelligence Department (GRU) in Moscow on Dec. 30, 2016. (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian government cyber actors also targeted a broad range of U.S. government agencies and critical infrastructure industries, including “energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.”

The Treasury Department also cited a range of other malicious activities coming from Russia, including the recent nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom and ongoing occupation of Crimea. President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned Russia in a joint statement on Thursday for the nerve-agent attack. Russia denies it was responsible.

“A very sad situation,” Trump said on Thursday. “It looks like the Russians were behind it. Something that should never ever happen and we’re taking it very seriously. And we’re taking it very seriously, as, I think, are many others.”

 

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