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US Treasury Hits Russian Firms with More Sanctions

The US government has slapped sanctions on a further five Russian organizations and three Russian nationals in response to recent Kremlin-sponsored cyber-attacks including NotPetya.

The Treasury Department took action under Executive Order 13694, Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities, and Section 224 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was passed last year despite protests from President Trump.

It claimed that one of the “designated entities” named in the order, Kvant Scientific Research Institute (Kvant), is controlled by and has provided material and technological support to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

Two others, Divetechnoservices and Digital Security, are said to have provided the FSB with material and technological support. The other two organizations, Embedi and ERPScan, are apparently owned by Digital Security.

The Treasury notice drew attention to recent Russian attempts to destabilize its geopolitical rivals in the West including the NotPetya ransomware campaign, attacks on the US energy grid and the VPNFilter campaign to compromise network devices around the world.

It also called out Russian efforts to track the underwater communication cables that carry most of the world’s telecommunications data.

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

“The United States is committed to aggressively targeting any entity or individual working at the direction of the FSB whose work threatens the United States and will continue to utilize our sanctions authorities, including those provided under CAATSA, to counter the constantly evolving threats emanating from Russia.”

The move comes as Donald Trump continues to advocate closer ties with the Putin administration. This week he called for Russia to be re-admitted to the G7 group of leading nations and blamed his predecessor Barack Obama for the country’s annexation of the Crimea.

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