St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia


Treasury Department Issues More Sanctions Against Russia Over 2016 Election

March 15, 2018 - 4:42 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) -- The Trump administration has slapped more sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced Thursday that a new round of sanctions have been issued against Russians persons and entities that are believed to have helped meddle in the election and to have engaged in cyberattacks.

"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 Steve Mnuchin said in a statement quoted by CBS News. "These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia."

Speaking to WCBS 880’s Steve Scott and Michael Wallace, CBS News Correspondent Bill Rehkopf explained the people and organizations that were targeted in the sanctions.

“These are going to target five entities and just under 19, 20 individuals from Russia for their actions in the 2016 presidential election. One of them includes the Internet Research Agency – which you might have heard of. This is a group that was indicted by Robert Mueller already, accused of using fake social media accounts to sow division in the U.S.,” Rehkopf said. “They also, the sanctions, target a couple of Russian military intelligence firms, and about six to eight people associated with those.”

The Treasury Department said in a statement that it intends to introduce the sanctions "to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the U.S. financial system," CBS News reported. 

The new sanctions are partially in response to the “NotPetya” cyberattack in June, CBS News reported. The U.S. and British governments believe the cyberattack was launched by the Russian military.

"This cyber-attack was the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history," the Treasury Department said as quoted by CBS News. "The attack resulted in billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the United States, and significantly disrupted global shipping, trade, and the production of medicines. Additionally, several hospitals in the United States were unable to create electronic records for more than a week." 

Among those targeted in the sanctions is Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, who is known as “Putin’s chief” and is considered to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, CBS News reported. Prigozhin is also considered the “mastermind” behind the Internet Research Agency, and his association with Putin bolsters U.S. intelligence officials’ belief that Putin authorized the cyber influence campaign during the 2016 election cycle, CBS News reported.

Russia was quick to respond dismissively to the sanctions, Rehkopf said.

“They said that the sanctions, you know, were bogus in essence – paraphrasing here – but that they were going to prepare a response to the United States,” he said.