Trump administration finally announces Russian Federation sanctions over election meddling

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The delay had led to questions over President Donald Trump's willingness to punish Moscow.

Washington has been accusing Russian Federation of interference in the 2016 presidential election and involvement in hacker attacks against the United States, both of which have been denied by Moscow.

Sanctions also target a number of individuals for ongoing attempts to hack the USA energy grid.

The Treasury Department added sanctions against the Internet Research Agency that special counsel Robert Mueller III included in a series of indictments against Russian Federation.

The GRU "knowingly engages in significant activities that undermine cybersecurity on behalf of the Russian government", including interference in the 2016 US presidential election, according to the Treasury statement.

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. Sanctions were also applied on 13 other individuals who were indicted by Mueller for their participation in the election meddling efforts.

The new sanctions also include Russian intelligence services, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), and six individuals working on behalf of the GRU.

"We write to urge you to enable and fully resource the GEC to effectively execute its roles and responsibilities in leading the United States efforts to counter the exploitation of the information environment by state and on-state actors aimed at undermining USA national security interests", the lawmakers wrote in the letter released Thursday.

"These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia", Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

With the US under pressure to act, the actions announced by the US Treasury Department, targeting 19 individuals and five entities including Russian intelligence services, represented the most significant steps taken against Moscow since Trump assumed office in January 2017. They came as the United States joined European allies in blaming Russian Federation for a nerve agent attack in Britain, deeming the action a "clear violation" of worldwide law.

United States uses sanctions to strike back at Russian Federation for 2016 election meddling
The sanctions also responded to other cyberattacks, including a previously undisclosed attempt to penetrate the USA energy grid. He dismissed them nonetheless, saying they are part of a USA effort to destabilize Russia's presidential election on March 18.

According to the report, Mr Mueller ordered the Trump Organisation to hand over all documents related to Russian Federation and other topics he is investigating.

"It looks like it", Trump said. Prime Minister Theresa May has expelled 23 Russian diplomats, severed high-level contacts with Moscow and vowed to take both open and covert actions against Russian dirty money and "hostile state activity". "A very sad situation".

The new sanctions would bar the individuals from traveling to the United States, and freeze whatever assets they may have in the country.

The penalties for the first time use new powers Congress passed a year ago to punish Moscow for election meddling.

Trump signed the bill reluctantly in August, claiming it impinged upon his executive powers and could dampen his attempts to improve ties with Moscow.

Also targeted is the Internet Research Agency, a very thinly disguised "troll farm" headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia, that creates and distributes high-quality disinformation and propaganda, ranging from political mischief to phony stories about disasters, disease outbreaks, and police shootings.

The White House said on Thursday that Russian Federation had a decision to make as it moves forward.

"We're going to continue those actions to increase pressure on Russian Federation until they change their behaviour, and become responsible members of the global community". "I think you can see from the actions we've taken up until this point we're going to be tough on Russian Federation until they decide to change their behavior", White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

On Thursday, administration officials insisted the new measures weren't the end of their efforts to punish Russian Federation.

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