Russians Hit With Fresh U.S. Sanctions Over Cyberattacks, Election Meddling

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska attends an investment forum in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009.
Photo: AP/Sergey Ponomarev

Citing a continued disregard for “international norms,” the U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday announced new sanctions against Russian assets and individuals, including 15 members of the Russian intelligence agency formerly known as the GRU.

The GRU members are accused of engaging in a “wide range of malign activity,” including interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They are also said to be involved in efforts globally to undermine various organizations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency, through the use of cyberattacks.

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The Treasury Department also cites the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer who in March fell gravely ill after reported contact with a Novichok nerve agent in England. Skripal’s daughter was also hospitalized. The pair were discharged earlier this year.

The Treasury names alleged GRU officers Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov in the poisoning of the Skripals, which U.K. authorities have classified as an attempted murder.

The U.S. “is sanctioning Russian intelligence operatives involved in cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 election and a wide range of other malign activities,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement. “We are taking action against operatives working on behalf of a sanctioned oligarch, hacking the World Anti-Doping Agency and other international organizations, and engaging in other subversive actions.”

Mnuchin said the U.S. would continue to work with international partners to “take collective action to defer and defend against sustained malign activity by Russia, its proxies, and intelligence agencies.”

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TheTreasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also issued new designations related to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian troll-farm accused of manipulating social media for the purpose interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. The IRA, members of whom were indicted by a U.S. grand jury in February, is also the subject of previous U.S. sanctions.

A former GRU officer is specifically accused of providing financial support to a Montenegrin political party as part of an alleged conspiracy to subvert Montenegro’s 2016 elections, which authorities have characterized as an attempted coup.

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Members of the pro-Russian Democratic Front, which opposed incumbent Milo Đukanović’s bid for prime minister of Montenegro, are said to have made frequent trips to Moscow during the run-up to the 2016 election.

The Treasury reports that the Trump administration has sanctioned, to date, 272 Russia-related individuals and entities for “a broad range of malign activities.”

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Dell Cameron

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