Trump Administration Slaps Sanctions On 19 Russian Individuals and Five Entities For Election Meddling

This morning, the Trump administration announced a new series of sanctions and cybersecurity measures targeting the 19 people and five entities for meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. These sanctions mark one of the most significant moves against Russia buy not only this administration but the Obama administration. According to national security officials, individuals referred to as “trolls” in addition to those who work for organizations such as the “Internet Research Agency” will not be able to travel to the United States, are barred from US transactions, and will have all US-based assets frozen.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin spoke condemningly of the Russians and organizations not involved not only in (low-level) election meddling but also cyber attacks and a plot to target the US energy grid:

“The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure.” Mnuchin went on to express his belief that this fresh round of sanctions will show Russia that the US means business, “These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia.”

Despite these measures primarily targeting individuals and organizations, rather than the whole of Russia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov aggressively chimed in saying “We have already started working on our reciprocal measures.”

More via Washington Times:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that his country meddled in the U.S. election or was involved in the poisoning in the U.K.

Mr. Trump, who has long resisted personally speaking out against Mr. Putin, has been criticized for slow-walking sanctions.

“OK, it took 14 months, multiple indictments, and a poisoning in Britain … but … finally. Now we must protect our elections going forward. Trump Administration Sanctions Russians for Election Meddling and Cyberattacks,” tweeted Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat.

“The sanctions today are a grievous disappointment and fall far short of what is needed to respond to that attack on our democracy let alone deter Russia’s escalating aggression, which now includes a chemical weapons attack on the soil of our closest ally,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a driving force in allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

He noted that only two new senior Russian officials were included and that the Obama administration had already imposed sanctions in December 2016 on the others. He said it showed no “new work” on the part of the Trump administration.[…]

“We are continuing to press back in meaningful ways,” said a senior national security official.

Those include Yevgeny Prigozhin, who’s a business operative tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin and known as “Putin’s chef.”

The sanctions also target the Internet Research Agency or IRA that Mr. Mueller said was behind much of the cyber meddling in the presidential election.

The penalties for the first time use new powers Congress passed last year to punish Moscow for election meddling. It targets both officials from the Russian spy agency FSB and Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU.

Treasury identified GRU and Russia’s military as interfering in the 2016 election and launching the NotPetya ransomeware attack that wreaked havoc last year across Europe and the U.S.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said that adding sanctions against the indicted Russians proved that Mr. Mueller probe wasn’t a “witch hunt,” as the president has claimed.

“It’s more clear than ever that the president must not interfere with the special counsel’s investigation in any way,” the New York Democrat said.

The chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee praised the Trump administration’s moves against Russia and said more needs to be done.

“Russian cyber actors have been weaponizing information and targeting critical U.S. infrastructure undeterred for years,” Chairman Ed Royce, California Republican, said in a statement. “As our midterm elections approach, we must send a clear message that attacks on our political process will not be tolerated.

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