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US hits Russia with sanctions for 2016 election meddling, hackings

March 15, 2018 21:34 IST

The United States on Thursday slapped a series of sanctions on top Russian spy agencies and cyber actors for their alleged interference in the 2016 elections and conducting separate cyberattacks.

The Department of Treasury designated five entities and 19 individuals.

The Trump administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in the US election, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure, said Treasury Secretary Steven T Mnuchin.

“These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia,” Mnuchin said.

“Treasury intends to impose additional CAATSA sanctions, informed by our intelligence community, to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilising activities by severing their access to the US financial system,” he said.


CAATSA stands for Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

These action, the Department of Treasury said, counters Russia’s continuing destabilising activities, ranging from interference in the 2016 US election to conducting destructive cyber-attacks, including the NotPetya attack, a cyber-attack attributed to the Russian military on February 15, 2018 in statements released by the White House and the British Government.

“This cyber-attack was the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history. The attack resulted in billions of dollars of damage across Europe, Asia, and the US, and significantly disrupted global shipping, trade, and the production of medicines,” it said.

Additionally, several hospitals in the US were unable to create electronic records for more than a week.

The Treasury alleged that since March 2016, Russian government cyber actors have also targeted US government entities and multiple US critical infrastructure sectors, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.

Indicators of compromise, and technical details on the tactics, techniques, and procedures, are provided in the recent technical alert issued by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In addition to countering Russia’s malign cyber activity, Treasury continues to pressure Russia for its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, occupy Crimea, meddle in elections, as well as for its endemic corruption and human rights abuses.

“The recent use of a military-grade nerve agent in an attempt to murder two UK citizens further demonstrates the reckless and irresponsible conduct of its government,” the Treasury said.

To date, the Trump Administration has sanctioned more than 100 individuals and entities under its Ukraine and Russia-related sanctions authorities, including 21 individuals, nine entities, and 12 subsidiaries that are owned 50 percent or more by previously sanctioned Russian companies on January 26, 2018.

These sanctions are in addition to other ongoing efforts by Treasury to address destabilising activity emanating from within Russia, including its sanctioning of Russians targeted for activities related to the North Korea sanctions program, the Global Magnitsky program, and the Sergei Magnitsky Act.

Lalit K Jha
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