2 April 2020

US imposes fresh sanctions on Russia over cyber attacks

KONFRONTASI - The United States has announced a raft of new sanctions targeting several Russian entities and individuals over their allege contribution to hacking schemes against Washington and its allies.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin alleged in a statement Monday that those affected in the new sanctions had worked with the Russian military and intelligence services to help cyber attacks against the US and other states.

“The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB (Russia’s security service) and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies,” said Mnuchin.

He added that the sanctions were meant to prevent further “malicious” actions by Russia.

“The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities,” Mnuchin said in the statement, warning that property of those targeted that was subject to US jurisdiction would be blocked and American citizens should refrain from engaging in transactions with them.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

The US Treasury said Russia’s cyber activities, which spread across Europe, Asia and the Americas, included “the NotPetya attack” last year, which US officials claimed caused billions of dollars in damage, and was part of Russia’s effort to destabilize Ukraine.

The Treasury further claimed in its statement that Russia had been actively seeking to sabotage undersea communication systems and said that the new sanctions also targeted Moscow’s underwater capabilities.

“Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data,” it said, designating firms like Digital Security, ERPScan, Embedi, Kvant Scientific Research Institute, and Divetechnoservices as those involved in the underwater work.

Individuals related to Divetechnoservices, which designs, manufactures and supplies professional diving equipment, were also blacklisted.

Russia has faced rounds of US and European sanctions over a crisis in eastern Ukraine that broke out in 2014. Washington and its European allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the conflict, but Russia denies the allegation.  

Moscow’s intelligence services were specifically targeted by US sanctions in late 2016 when they were accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections, an allegation Russia denies.[ptv]



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