USA imposes sanctions on Russians for election meddling

16 March, 2018, 01:55 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • US Imposes Sanctions on 13 Russians Indicted by Mueller

Some of the measures announced Thursday were the result of a Russian sanctions bill which Trump begrudgingly signed into law last August after it almost unanimously passed both houses of Congress.

Mnuchin said the USA intends to impose more sanctions in an effort "to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the United States financial system".

The Trump administration also accused Russian Federation on Thursday of an ongoing operation to hack and spy on the U.S. power utilities. And also, these officials did mention another Russian effort to target the USA energy system.

The sanctions affect 13 Russian nationals and three entities aligned with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a group that in essence serves as Russia's propaganda arm and is believed by USA intelligence to have been behind divisive online ads released during the election. "I think you can see from the actions we have taken up until this point we are going to be tough on Russian Federation until they start to change their behavior".

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The Trump administration accused Russia on Thursday of a concerted, ongoing operation to hack and spy on the USA energy grid and other critical infrastructure, and separately imposed sanctions on Russian officials for alleged high-tech interference in the 2016 American presidential election.

Asked if Mr. Putin was behind it, Mr. Trump said, "It looks like it".

"These sanctions target a wide range of Russia's destabilizing activities, including interference in the 2016 US election", said one official from the Treasury Department.

Interestingly enough, the list of individuals and groups identified by Department of Treasury for punishment appears to have relied on the efforts of Robert Mueller's independent investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible ties to the Trump campaign - an inquiry the president has called a baseless "witch hunt". The indictment says an organization known as the Internet Research Agency "sought, in part, to conduct what it called "information warfare against the United States of America" through fictitious U.S. personas on social media platforms and other internet-based media".

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The officials said the Russians deliberately chose US energy industry targets, obtaining access to computer systems and then conducting "network reconnaissance" of industrial control systems that run American factories and the electricity grid.

Trump has frequently questioned a January 2017 finding by United States intelligence agencies that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 campaign using hacking and propaganda in an effort eventually aimed at tilting the race in Trump's favour. It noted that the attack caused several USA hospitals to be unable to create electronic medical records for more than a week.

The supposed head of the agency, an oligarch with close links to Vladimir Putin named Yevgeny Prigozhin, is one of the individuals targeted by the sanctions, along with 12 agency staff.

Both the New York Times and ABC News reported Thursday that Mueller's team, which is investigating Russia's interference with the 2016 election and possible collusion with Donald Trump's campaign, issued the subpoena in "recent weeks". Additional sanctions target Russia's two main intelligence agencies, the FSB and GRU, as well as people associated with them.

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However the official line suggests the sanctions are more to do with cyber attacks in the US.

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