US hits 19 Russians with sanctions for 2016 election meddling, cyber attacks


US hits 19 Russians with sanctions for 2016 election meddling, cyber attacks

The U.S. slapped new sanctions on Russian Federation on Thursday for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and continued efforts to hack American infrastructure.

According to the Treasury Department, the new sanctions are a response to Russia's 2016 election interference and other malicious cyberactivity, along with its "ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, occupy Crimea, meddle in elections, as well as for its endemic corruption and human rights abuses".

It was the most significant action taken against Moscow since President Donald Trump took office, the New York Times reported.

In addition to IRA, the report also named Russia's state security intelligence organization, the FSB, in pushing cyber attacks on the US.

"Congress should pass our bipartisan DETER Act to make clear that severe sanctions await any country that chooses to do what Putin did in 2016 and continues to do now", he added.

KEITH: Well, it's - this is interesting. Among those individuals are 13 Russians indicted by Special Counsel Robert Muller as a part of his investigation into Russian election interference.

If you look at the list, among them is the Internet Research Agency.

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A man walks past the building of the headquarters of the Russian General Staff's Main Intelligence Department (GRU) in Moscow on December 30, 2016. And then a bunch of individuals that were involved with the Internet Research Agency. The new sanctions have affected the Internet Research Agency, better known in the media as the "troll factory", which the U.S. has previously accused of attempts to interfere in the presidential election of the United States in 2016. Or is this something in addition? And there's another thing. They are also targeting Russian individuals that are involved in meddling in other elections, meddling in Ukraine.

A June 2017 cyber attack, delivered through a mock ransomware virus dubbed NotPetya, wiped data from the computers of banks, energy firms, senior government officials and an airport.

MARTIN: Is this it?

According to USA officials, Russian Federation tried to get into America's energy grid, a breach that has alarmed national security agencies and bears out long-held concerns at the Pentagon that Moscow will seek to disable critical United States infrastructure.

The Internet Research Agency and 13 individuals connected to it are being sanctioned for using fake identities online as well as posting thousands of online ads in an effort to sow confusion among U.S. voters.

MARTIN: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

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