United States issues sanctions against Russians for election meddling and cyberattacks

Voter turnout at Russian polls – why pay attention

Several of these agencies and individuals already face travel bans and asset freezes that were ordered by the Obama administration in retaliation of Moscow's actions.

"In addition to countering Russia's malign cyber activity, Treasury continues to pressure Russian Federation for its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, occupy Crimea, meddle in elections, as well as for its endemic corruption and human rights abuses", the department said in a statement.

"This is a series of actions, and we'll continue to pressure Russian Federation to change their behavior", a senior national intelligence official said. Officials say it's a propaganda outfit that used fake identities to pose as Americans on social media, in order to sow divisiveness during the campaign.

"The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyberactivity, including their attempted interference in USA elections, destructive cyberattacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.

Mr Trump said Thursday he had spoken with British Prime Minister Theresa May about the case.

The new sanctions also include Russian intelligence services, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), and six individuals working on behalf of the GRU. The sanctions block properties and interests in properties within US jurisdiction and "generally" prohibit USA persons from engaging in transactions with the sanctioned entities and individuals, the Treasury Department said.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner said the sanctions were long overdue.

"We are tough on Russian Federation, we call out Russian Federation I think when it is necessary. It is not fully sufficient", Warner, D-Va., told MSNBC.

A line of Russian citizens intending to vote at the polling station in the Russian embassy in Minsk Belarus
A line of Russian citizens intending to vote at the polling station in the Russian embassy in Minsk Belarus

House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has knocked the president's response to the election interference, saying Trump has done little more than "sit on his hands". USA persons and corporations are forbidden from doing business with anyone designated by the sanctions, cutting targets off from much of the world's financial infrastructure.

One of those named is Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin - a man so close to the Russian President that he has been nicknamed "Putin's chef". Also identified for repeat sanctions: His two companies, Concord Management and Consulting, and Concord Catering. Sixteen of the Russian individuals and entities sanctioned were indicted on February 16 as part of Mueller's criminal investigation.

The Obama administration previously imposed sanctions on both the GRU and Russia's primary law enforcement service, the FSB, after Russian Federation annexed part of neighboring Ukraine in 2014. The sanctions will also punish those involved in the newly revealed cyberattacks. These actions are the administration's most significant actions against Russia that follow the warnings by the NSA and US Cyber Command that believe if the US doesn't respond to these brazen actions by the Kremlin, Russia will only continue its malicious attacks against the country.

The countries in a joint statement called the attack on former spy a "clear violation" of worldwide law.

National security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said even more sanctions are in the works.

British authorities have said Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent called Novichok, which was developed by the former Soviet Union during the end of the Cold War.

On Wednesday, the State Department released a statement condemning Russian Federation on the fourth anniversary of its invasion and occupation of the Crimean peninsula, a Ukrainian territory on the Black Sea.

National security officials pointed to the poisoning of a former spy in the United Kingdom with a military-grade nerve agent and aggression in Ukraine as some of the malicious actions by Russian Federation. "We call on Russian Federation to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury". Trump in the past has signaled that Mueller's team would be crossing a "red line" if it looked into his past business dealings, although Mueller could justify investigating such dealings on the grounds that they may explain why Russian officials worked to help get Trump elected in 2016.

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