USA hits Russian Federation with sanctions for election meddling

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The United States has imposed sanctions against Russian entities for the NotPetya ransomware outbreak, cyber-attacks on the U.S. power grid, and their attempts to influence the 2016 USA presidential election process.

Details of that campaign were laid out in an indictment document of involved Russian individuals and entities last month from the Justice Department's special counsel, Robert Mueller.

The Treasury Department said this action was meant to counter Russia's continuing destabilizing activities, which range from interference in the 2016 U.S. election to conducting destructive cyberattacks.

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

It was the most significant action taken against Moscow since US President Donald Trump took office.

Numerous main entities and individuals hit - including the spy agencies and "troll factory" boss Yevgeny Prigozhin - already face assets freezes and travel bans, either put in place under Barack Obama's administration or for actions linked to Russia's actions in Ukraine.

In all, the new sanctions target 19 people and five organizations - though 10 had been previously hit with sanctions, mostly under the Obama administration.

Sanctions were also slapped on a dozen Russians who allegedly worked for the Internet Research Agency, a so-called "troll factory" based in St Petersburg that has always been identified as a source of Kremlin disinformation. Additionally, the administration alerted the public that Russian Federation is targeting the USA energy grid with computer malware that could sabotage the systems. Thursday's action freezes any assets the individuals and entities may have in the United States and bar Americans from doing business with them.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Vladimir Putin's government will need to "decide if they want to be a good actor or a bad actor".

The Russian spy agencies included the Federal Security Service and the GRU military intelligence service, along with six GRU officers.

Wednesday, Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the attack.

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According to the Treasury Department, destructive Russian cyber actors attacked the US energy sector, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors. Congress passes laws and the executive enforces them.

"It is tied to USA internal disorder, tied of course to our electoral calendar", Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency Tass.

Treasury said its "action counters Russia's continuing destabilizing activities, ranging from interference in the 2016 US election to conducting destructive cyber-attacks", including the June 2017 NotPetya attack that hit European businesses.

A senior national security official declined to say why no FSB officers were singled out in the sanctions action.

The attack resulted in billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the United States, and significantly disrupted global shipping, trade, and the production of medicines.

The US today 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.

"This is a series of actions, and we'll continue to pressure Russian Federation to change their behavior", a senior national intelligence official said. The Internet Research Agency indicted by Robert Mueller is also named in these sanctions.

The Internet Research Agency, which was run by Prigozhin, was found to have 'tampered with, altered, or caused a misappropriation of information with the objective or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes and institutions, ' specifically the 2016 USA presidential race, the department said.

This U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also pointed to Russia's refusal to restrain Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the role of Russian "mercenaries" in Syria, now entering its eighth year of civil war.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said he was glad to see the administration act but noted that Democratic former President Barack Obama's administration had already imposed sanctions on numerous people and entities targeted on Thursday.

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