RRU Special Report
International media report the Treasury Department has issued a new round of sanctions against Russian entities and individuals for “ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia.” Reports note blacklisted bodies took part in targeting cyber security, diplomatic, military, and White House personnel and interfered in the 2016 US election through cyber-enabled activities. Outlets cover the Department of Homeland Security’s accusation that Russia engaged in wide-ranging cyber-assaults on the US energy grid and other key parts of the US infrastructure. Outlets quote Spokesperson Nauert regarding the timeframe and development of the latest sanctions.
Observers see the US joining the clash between Europe and Putin by rolling out the “toughest possible” sanctions and observe a further cooling in bilateral US-Russia relations.
Treasury Department announces new sanctions: Australia’s News.com.au writes, “US Treasury Department has unveiled sanctions on a number of Russians for their alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.” According to the outlet, “The move freezes any assets the individuals and entities may have in the United States and bar Americans from doing business with them. Also targeted were five Russian companies, including the internet Research Agency, which is accused of orchestrating a mass online disinformation campaign to affect the election.” The UK’s Daily Mail details, “The FSB – the successor to Russia’s infamous KGB – and the GRU, both top-tier intelligence agencies, are also targeted, meaning that the Treasury Department will forbid them from accessing assets in the US or using America’s banking system.
Russia’s RT notes, “Some of the names included in Thursday’s Treasury document correspond with the list of 13 Russians recently indicted by a US federal grand jury for allegedly interfering with US elections and political processes. The indictment says an organization known as the Internet Research Agency ‘sought, in part, to conduct what it called ‘information warfare against the United States of America’ through fictitious US personas on social media platforms and other internet-based media’.”
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s statement: The UK’s BBC reports, “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin accused the Russians of ‘destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure’ and said the sanctions would target ‘ongoing nefarious attacks’ by Russia.” Times of India writes, “‘The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in US elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure,’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in announcing the new sanctions.” The outlet adds, “But Mnuchin was unequivocal in saying that Thursday’s Treasury action ‘counters Russia’s continuing destabilizing activities, ranging from interference in the 2016 election to conducting destructive cyber-attacks’.”
Spokesperson Nauert: Russia’s Sputnik reports, “US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert noted that sanctions take a long time to put in place and added that the latest round has been prepared for months and was released when the US government was ready.” The outlet adds, “Nauert rejected Moscow’s accusations that the United States timed new sanctions against Russia to impact the upcoming presidential election in the country. ‘They make lots of wild assertions and I think that would be another one,’ she said on Thursday when asked about Russia’s claims.”
Russia reacts: Pan-Arab Al-Jazeera leads, “Russia is promising to retaliate after the US announced new sanctions over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.” France’s Euronews expands, “Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has announced that Moscow plans to add US citizens to its ‘black list’ in retaliation over new sanctions and would not rule out further measures. Yet Russia still wants to maintain dialogue with the United States, he added.” The UK’s Daily Mail adds, “‘From the very beginning, we use the principle of parity on the number of people included in sanction lists. So we will expand our ‘black list’ with another group of Americans,’ Ryabkov was cited as saying. He added that Moscow did not rule out extra measures in response to new sanctions for alleged interfering in US elections and cyber attacks, which Russia denies.”
Ongoing cyberattacks: The UK’s Guardian leads, “The US has accused Russia of a wide-ranging cyber-assault on its energy grid and other key parts of its infrastructure, as it stepped up sanctions on Russian intelligence for its interference in the 2016 elections. US officials said that malware had been found in the operating systems of several organizations and companies in the US energy, nuclear, water and ‘critical manufacturing’ sector, and the malware as well as other form of cyber-attacks had been traced back to Moscow.” Germany’s Deutsche Welle expands, “Officials have sent security alerts to energy companies who they say are being deliberately targeted in Russian ‘network reconnaissance’ operations involving control systems that run US factories and the country’s electrical grid. Officials say they have kicked hackers out of all of the systems they are known to have penetrated.” The UK’s Week emphasizes, “The White House has also indicated that further sanctions are coming, over accusations that Russia had hacked into vital US infrastructure over a two-year period.”
Commentators: Spain’s El Mundo emphasizes, “US joins the clash between Europe and Putin with more sanctions.” France’s La-Croix.com comments, “The atmosphere between Moscow and Washington is increasingly chilly as Washington has announced new sanctions against Russia.” Germany’s Deutsche Welle opines, “The move is seen as significant as the Trump administration and, above all, President Donald Trump himself, have been slow to criticize Russia for election meddling, fearing it may undermine the legitimacy of his victory over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.” Sueddeutsche Zeitung believes, “If the government now believes that there was a Russian interference in the elections, it cannot be ruled out that it has changed votes.” Malaysian Digest observes, “The US put off targeting oligarchs and government officials close to President Vladimir Putin, prompting lawmakers in both parties to say President Donald Trump needs to do much more.”