U.S. Accuses Russia of Attacks on Critical Infrastructure and Elections, Imposes Sanctions

Last Thursday, the Trump administration announced the imposition of sanctions against Russia in response to what it deemed an organized effort to hack elements critical to American infrastructure, including aviation systems and the U.S. energy grid.

The efforts were in addition to past and ongoing Russian attempts to interfere in American elections. The announcement of the sanctions marks the strongest official acknowledgement by the administration of the extent of Russian cyberattacks on the United States.

The New York Times notes “the sanctions came at the same time the United States joined with Britain, France, and Germany in a statement denouncing Russia for its apparent role in a nerve-gas attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil, calling it a ‘clear violation’ of international law.”

Despite openly blaming Russia for the nerve-gas attack following the issuing of the letter, President Trump did not publicly comment on Russian election-meddling, which he has frequently termed “fake news,” but which also serve as the partial basis for the sanctions announced today.

Notably, the sanctions include as targets the “same Russian organizations and operatives identified by” Robert Mueller, the head of the high-profile investigation into Russian election meddling, a fact some noted as confirmation of the investigation’s integrity.

“The fact that the administration has issued sanctions against individuals and entities indicted by Special Counsel Mueller proves that his investigation is not a ‘witch hunt’ as the president and his allies have claimed,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Overall, the announced sanctions target five Russian organizations and nineteen individuals and “will generally block them from traveling to the United States, freeze any assets in the country and bar American businesses and individuals from doing business with them.”

The attacks forming the basis of the sanctions included attacks that have received less attention than election-meddling efforts, including last year’s “NotPetya” attack, which has been called the costliest cyberattack in history, and an effort known as “Dragonfly,” which successfully penetrated numerous security layers at facilities connected to energy and nuclear power stations in the United States and Europe. Experts have said hackers were likely looking for a way to seize control of plant operations.

 

 

 

Posted in From the Hill

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