US authorities announced new financial sanctions against Russia's top intelligence agencies, more than a dozen Russian citizens, and the company known as the Russian "troll factory" in the latest USA push to punish Moscow.
The United States also joined Britain, Germany and France in demanding that Russian Federation give explanation on how a former spy was poisoned in Salisbury.
Thursday's action freezes any assets the individuals and entities may have in the United States and bars Americans from doing business with them.
But Mnuchin was unequivocal in saying that Thursday's Treasury action "counters Russia's continuing destabilising activities, ranging from interference in the 2016 election to conducting destructive cyber-attacks". Thursday's sanctions punishes the same individuals and groups named in that indictment, including Yevgeniy V. Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch who reportedly has close ties to country's president Vladimir Putin.
In addition, the USA government continues to pressure Russian Federation over efforts to destabilize Ukraine as well as for corruption and human rights abuses, the news release said.
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It was the most significant action taken against Moscow since Trump took office. He dismissed them nonetheless, saying they are part of a US effort to destabilize Russia's presidential election on March 18. Warner also warned Russia has never ceased its attempts to further destabilize the American political system: "We've seen Russian bots and activities stirring up people on both sides of the gun debate after the shootings in Florida".
US national security officials said the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies determined Russian intelligence and others were behind a broad range of cyberattacks starting a year ago.
Mr Mnuchin did not give a timeframe for those sanctions, which he said would sever the individuals' access to the United States financial system. "Russia's intelligence services don't exactly have retail bank accounts in the United States, and so this will have a negligible impact on their operations".
The Treasury Department noted that it continues to pressure Russian Federation for its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine and occupy Crimea, and for its "endemic corruption and human rights abuses".
Also blacklisted is the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, which is accused of engineering an online disinformation campaign to sway the 2016 U.S presidential election.
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The new penalties were the first to be utilized under a law that Congress passed a year ago to punish Russian Federation for election meddling.
The 5 entities targeted include intelligence agencies and a Russian firm accused of mass trolling Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Yet Russia hawks in Congress deemed it too little, too late. GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona called the action "overdue". That shows the administration believes the investigation is legitimate, they argued. They've been indicted by USA special counsel Robert Mueller for meddling in the 2016 us presidential election. It quickly spread across the world, paralysing computers resulting in billions of dollars in damage due to disruptions in shipping, trade and other industries, the Treasury Department said. The U.S. officials the energy industry targets were chosen deliberately.
Yevgeny Prigozhin - an oligarch who allegedly ran the agency and is known as "Putin's chef" - and 12 of the agency's staff are also hit by the sanctions.
The agency "tampered with, altered or caused a misappropriation of information with the objective or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes and institutions", specifically the 2016 US presidential race.
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