Trump administration imposes sanctions on 13 Russians indicted by Mueller

Donald Trump sanctions 'Putin's chef' as global relations fall apart

They include 13 individuals charged last month by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

"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", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement. "These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russian Federation".

CBS News' Jeff Pegues notes that Russian Federation analysts both in intelligence circles and law enforcement, believe sanctions are among the most effective way to curb Putin's behavior. Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a financial backer to the Internet Research Agency with deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is also included.

Among those penalized was Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is known as Russian President Vladimir Putin's "chef" and who ran the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, and 12 of the agency's employees.

All 13 were charged in a February indictment by United States special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating allegations that Russian Federation meddled in the U.S. vote to help Donald Trump win. The IRA itself is also on the sanctions list, as is Russia's main intelligence agency and several individuals who work there.

The officials say the Russians obtained access to the energy system and "conducted network reconnaissance" of industrial control systems that run US factories and the electricity grid.

He did not specify when these penalties would be imposed, but stated they would sever the individuals' access to the United States financial system.

"The IRA [Internet Research Agency] created and managed a vast number of fake online personas that posed as legitimate USA persons to include grassroots organisations, interest groups, and a state political party on social media", the Treasury Department statement said on Thursday. "Through this activity, the IRA posted thousands of ads that reached millions of people online".

For those designated, the sanctions freeze all assets under USA jurisdiction, and US persons are barred from engaging in transactions with them.


Additionally, the administration alerted the public that Russian Federation is targeting the USA energy grid with computer malware that could sabotage the systems.

The officials said the hackers chose their targets methodically, obtained access to computer systems, conducted "network reconnaissance" and then attempted to cover their tracks by deleting evidence of the intrusions.

The GRU, as well as a number of its top officials, is being sanctioned for its direct involvement in "interfering in the 2016 U.S. election through cyber-enabled activities".

While praising the Trump Administration's move on Thursday to impose sanctions on 19 Russians who have been accused of interfering in the 2016 USA elections, lawmakers in both parties said President Donald Trump needs to do even more to punish Moscow for election meddling, mainly to send a message that no type of repeat in the 2018 mid-term elections will be tolerated by the United States.

That statement closes a gap that had emerged between the United States and the United Kingdom in recent days, as the White House appeared to stop short of blaming Russian Federation for the attack.

However the official line suggests the sanctions are more to do with cyber attacks in the US.

The US has condemned the poison attack, but it has yet to follow the UK's lead and take direct action against the Russian government in response. James Lankford (R-OK), who echoed Rubio in argued that the USA must show that election meddling is "unacceptable and will have consequences". "We have already started working on our reciprocal measures", Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to the Russian news agency TASS. On Wednesday, Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation.

"I have been sanctioned maybe three or four times - I'm exhausted of counting, I can't remember". "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". I'm not anxious by this.

The official is quoted by the Russian state news agency Tass as saying that the USA action is "tied to US internal disorder, tied of course to our electoral calendar".

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