Trump Sanctions Russia Following Energy Grid Cyberattack

Russians in Ukraine to be blocked from voting in presidential poll Kiev

The US on Thursday sanctioned five entities and 19 individuals in response to "ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia", citing state meddling in the 2016 presidential elections among the reasons for the move.

President Trump's administration imposed sanctions on a series of Russian organizations and individuals.

The US Treasury is freezing the assets of 19 people and 5 groups from Russian Federation it says engaged in cyber-attacks.

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

"The sanctions today are a grievous disappointment and fall far short of what is needed to respond to that attack on our democracy let alone deter Russia's escalating aggression, which now includes a chemical weapons attack on the soil of our closest ally", said Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

The condemnation is the first time the United States has publicly accused Russian Federation of attempting to hack into the American energy infrastructure, which US security officials have long warned may be vulnerable to debilitating cyber attacks from hostile adversaries.

"Unless the calculus changes, we should expect continued issues", said Army Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, who has also been nominated to head the USA military's Cyber Command. They are meant to deter tampering with this year's midterm elections while signaling to Russian Federation that Washington will not allow its attacks to go unchallenged, officials said. America and Britain last month blamed the Russian military for that attack.

"We need a clearly articulated cyber doctrine that will deter nations like Russian Federation from going after our crucial institutions", Warner said.

Bloomberg via Getty Images U.S. President Donald Trump greets Leo Varadkar, Ireland's prime minister, at the White House in Washington on March 15, 2018.

The Russians have denied any involvement in the poisonings and have dismissed the allegations as the result of anti-Russian sentiment in the West.

The sanctions prompted a swift threat of retaliation from Russia's government, which said a response was already being prepared.

The charges were brought by Robert Mueller, the special counsel who has been investigating Russian election meddling, which included looking at alleged Trump campaign links to Russia.

The White House says President Donald Trump has been "extremely tough on Russia" during his time in office. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer asked.

"The IRA created and managed a vast number of fake online personas that posed as legitimate USA persons to include grass-roots organizations, interest groups and a state political party on social media", the Treasury Department statement said.

In Mueller's probe, he indicted the 13 individuals mentioned above, including Prigozhin.

The officials say the Russians obtained access to the energy system and "conducted network reconnaissance" of industrial control systems that run USA factories and the electricity grid.

"An overall strategy for how the nation is going to defend itself in cyber space is very important", Nakasone said, calling it, "obviously one of the things that would help". He said, "It's more clear than ever that the president must not interfere with the special counsel's investigation in any way".

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