Donald Trump's administration levied sanctions against Russia's top spy agencies and more than a dozen individuals Thursday for trying to influence the 2016 USA presidential election and two separate cyberattacks.
Numerous individuals targeted allegedly worked for the Internet Research Agency, the Russians "troll factory" which America believes systematically targeted the election campaign.
The US Treasury has issued new sanctions against Russian Federation in response to what it called "ongoing nefarious attacks". But the joint statement said nothing about any collective action in response.
Trump said Thursday he had spoken with British Prime Minister Theresa May about the case. "A very sad situation".
On Thursday The New York Times reported that special counsel Mueller had subpoenaed the company founded by Trump to turn over documents including some related to Russian Federation.
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The US has announced sanctions against several Russian individuals and entities, according to a statement from the Treasury Department. It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it.
Some of the names included in Thursday's Treasury document correspond with the list of 13 Russians recently indicted by a United States federal grand jury for allegedly interfering with USA elections and political processes.
A US security alert published on March 15 said that Russian government hackers are seeking to penetrate multiple sectors that USA consumers depend on for day-to-day necessities. The U.S. government has helped the industries expel the Russians from all systems known to have been penetrated, but additional breaches could be discovered, said the officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security information.
Moscow dismissed the move as political.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov responded by saying Moscow is calmly preparing retaliatory measures over the sanctions, as cited by Interfax.
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President Vladimir Putin is virtually guaranteed of winning re-election Sunday, but state-run media outlets tirelessly speculate that Western governments are creating provocations to make his victory and future rule less secure. "When talking about some 'intrusion, ' the authors of these decisions should better talk about their own madness". But even that might not be enough now until Mueller's investigation is done.
Nine of the 24 entities and individuals targeted Thursday had already received sanctions from Obama or Trump for other reasons, including Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch known as "Putin's cook" who was accused of controlling the Internet Research Agency.
Russia's military intelligence organisation, the Main Intelligence Directorate, was also sanctioned.
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.
Among the targets was the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp., which runs a nuclear-power plant near Burlington, Kansas, according to security responders and a joint report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation last June.
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