Treasury slaps sanctions on firms aiding Russia security service
The Trump administration on Monday announced sanctions against five Russian entities and three Russian nationals for aiding the Kremlin’s domestic security service.
The Treasury Department targeted five companies and technology firms as well as three executives from one of the companies, all of whom are accused of aiding Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
The sanctioned targets are banned from the U.S. financial system and American citizens and business are prohibited from any transactions with them.
The penalties were issued under the Russian sanctions law Congress passed last year and a 2015 executive order targeting cyber crime. The Treasury Department targeted the FSB with sanctions in March for its involvement in several Kremlin-led cyberattacks.
The FSB was also one of several entities sanctioned by then-President Obama in December 2016 in relation to Russian hacking of Democratic political organizations and operatives during the presidential race that year.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Monday that the targets of the new sanctions helped the FSB improve its cyber and underwater operations “and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies.”
Mnuchin said the U.S. is committed to “aggressively targeting” anyone aiding the FSB, saying the U.S. would do so under the 2017 sanctions law, known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers sanctions, targeted a Russian cyber firm, two of its subsidiaries, a cyber research center and an underwater technology company for their work for the FSB.
OFAC slapped sanctions on a firm called Digital Security and two subsidiaries for their work on an unspecified project “that would increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities” for agencies including the FSB, the Treasury Department said.
The sanctions also cover Kvant Scientific Research Institute, which the FSB controls, and Divetechnoservices, which has supplied the FSB with “a variety of underwater equipment and diving systems for Russian government agencies,” including a $1.5 million submersible craft, according to the Trump administration.
Three top Divetechnoservices executives — Aleksandr Lvovich Tribun, Oleg Sergeyevich Chirikov and Vladimir Yakovlevich Kaganskiy — were also targeted by OFAC on Monday.
According to the Treasury Department, the sanctioned firms and individuals are involved in supporting and bolstering the Russian government’s offensive hacking activities against the United States and other countries.
These activities include the NotPetya cyberattack, the June 2017 global malware outbreak for which the Trump administration and the United Kingdom have blamed Russia.
More recently, U.S. officials also revealed that Kremlin-linked hackers staged a multiyear cyberattack campaign on the American energy sector and other elements of critical infrastructure.
And in April, U.S. and British officials accused the Russian government of hacking into routers and other network devices across the globe to conduct espionage and intellectual property theft.
The Treasury Department also said that the sanctioned entities are involved in supporting Moscow’s efforts to track undersea communication cables, which hold most of the world’s telecommunications data.
The new sanctions come three days after President Trump enraged U.S. allies and lawmakers by calling on the Group of Seven industrialized nations to reinstate Russia.
Trump told reporters Friday ahead of a dramatic G-7 summit in Canada that Russia should be allowed to rejoin the economic working group.
Russia was ousted from the then-Group of Eight in 2014 as punishment for annexing Crimea and supporting pro-Kremlin separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Members of the G-7 have ruled out readmitting Russia, while U.S. lawmakers from both parties have called the president’s suggestion “weak” and an “international joke.”
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