US sanctions 24 Russians, entities for 2016 election interference

US sanctions 24 Russians, entities for 2016 election interference

Special Counsel Robert Mueller leaves the U.S. Capitol Building after meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017.

Pushing back harder on Russia, the Trump administration accused Moscow on Thursday of a concerted hacking operation targeting the USA energy grid, aviation systems and other infrastructure, and also imposed sanctions on Russians for alleged interference in the 2016 election.

Among the attacks traced back to Moscow were efforts to meddle in the 2016 Presidential elections, and the huge "NotPetya" cyber attack which USA officials described as the "most destructive and costly" in history.

Thursday morning, the White House also released a statement that fingered Russia for the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and a British police officer in the United Kingdom.

"It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it", said President Donald Trump, who has generally been reluctant to criticize Russia. "Russia's intelligence services don't exactly have retail bank accounts in the United States, and so this will have a negligible impact on their operations".

"Today's action, using authorities provided by Congress, is an important step by the administration". To date, officials said, the administration has imposed sanctions on more than 100 individuals and entities under authorities specific to Ukraine and Russian Federation.

Lawmakers and experts alike met the Trump administration's belated announcement of sanctions with a mix of appreciation and wonder why it has taken so long.

Russian Federation denies interfering in the election.

Sixteen of the Russian individuals and entities sanctioned were indicted on February 16 as part of Mueller's criminal investigation. "A classic bully", the official said of Putin.

While there was a sense at the White House that there has been a hardening of Trump's view toward Russian Federation, at least for now, it was unclear whether this represented a long-term shift. "They're going to have to decide whether they want to be a good actor or a bad actor".

"In addition to countering Russia's malign cyber activity, Treasury continues to pressure Russian Federation for its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, occupy Crimea, meddle in elections, as well as for its endemic corruption and human rights abuses", the statement said. -Russian relations plunged again.

The energy sector attack was a cyber attack, and senior officials said Russian intrusions into energy systems "have been removed".

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Wednesday, Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the attack.

United States intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign using hacking and propaganda, an effort that eventually included attempting to tilt the race in President Donald Trump's favour. Russian Federation denies interfering in the election.

The Treasury Department noted that it continues to pressure Russian Federation for its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine and occupy Crimea, and for its "endemic corruption and human rights abuses".

"Putin constantly attacks our friends".

The decision by the United States to publicly attribute hacking attempts of American critical infrastructure was "unprecedented and extraordinary", said Amit Yoran, a former USA official who founded DHS's Computer Emergency Response Team. The Internet Research Agency indicted by Robert Mueller is also named in these sanctions.

Thursday's sanctions target two groups.

Regarding the infrastructure cyber attacks, officials said since at least March 2016 Russian government cyber attacks were carried out on multiple US critical infrastructures, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing networks.

"Specifically, the FSB has utilized its cyber tools to target Russian journalists and politicians critical of the Russian government; Russian citizens and government officials; former officials from countries bordering Russia; and US government officials, including cyber security, diplomatic, military, and White House personnel".

The decision heaps pressure on Moscow as it faces separate punitive measures for an alleged attempt to kill a Russian-born British informant with a nerve agent west of London. It noted that the attack caused several USA hospitals to be unable to create electronic medical records for more than a week.

Those targets include officials working for the Russian military intelligence agency, GRU, the Internet Research Agency, and the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Thursday's action blocks all property of those targeted that is subject to US jurisdiction and prohibits American citizens from engaging in transactions with them. I'm not anxious by this. "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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