As promised (or threatened), the Obama administration has just unveiled – via the US Treasury – new sanctions against Russia over election hacking allegations (that as yet have not been supported by any actual evidence). Despite president-elect Trump’s comments that “we ought to get on with our lives,” the sanctions apply to five entities and six individuals. Amusingly, one of the entities is Russia’s FSB, aka the Federal Security Service, i.e. the Russian spy service, to the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. Which, perhaps, means that previously the US would look the other way when known spies would enter the US.
In announcing the sanctions, a US official was quoted by Reuters as saying that it “hopes” the Russian government reevaluates its actions which have impeded the avility and safety of US embassy personnel in Russia. It was not clear what actions the US is referring to, or what evidence there is, but as the Iraq invasion proved, one does not need such trivial as supporting evidence when launching a quasi cyberwar.
Additionally, the official said that the action is meant to impose costs on the Russian government, and hold it accountable, and are in response to the “harassment” of US diplomats in Russia, and the activities of Russian diplomats in the US that are “not consistent” with their diplomatic responsibilities.
Reuters also notes that the US will close two Russian compoounds in Maryland and New York used for intelligence-related activities; access to the compounds will be denied to all Russian diplomats as soon as Friday.
Finally, US will expel 35 Russian diplomats in Washington and San Francisco, ficing them 72 hours to leave the country.
As Bloomberg reports, among those targeted were officials of GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, which cybersecurity experts in the U.S. have linked to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and party officials through a group they have nicknamed APT 28 or Fancy Bear. The U.S. also is sanctioning some Russian state institutions and cyber companies associated with them.
Issuance of Amended Executive Order 13694; Cyber-Related Sanctions Designations
Today, the President issued an Executive Order Taking Additional Steps To Address The National Emergency With Respect To Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities. This amends Executive Order 13694, “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.” E.O. 13694 authorized the imposition of sanctions on individuals and entities determined to be responsible for or complicit in malicious cyber-enabled activities that result in enumerated harms that are reasonably likely to result in, or have materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States. The authority has been amended to also allow for the imposition of sanctions on individuals and entities determined to be responsible for tampering, altering, or causing the misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions. Five entities and four individuals are identified in the Annex of the amended Executive Order and will be added to OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List). OFAC today is designating an additional two individuals who also will be added to the SDN List.
Specially Designated Nationals List Update
The following individual has been added to OFAC’s SDN List:
The following entities have been added to OFAC’s SDN List:
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Additionally – potentially unrelated:
Bloomberg reports that The FBI and Homeland Security Department will release a report Thursday with technical evidence intended to prove Russia’s military and civilian intelligence services were behind hacking attacks during this year’s presidential campaign, according to a U.S. official.
The documentation will be offered in tandem with sanctions that the Obama administration announced Thursday in retaliation for the breach of Democratic National Committee e-mails as Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump were campaigning for the White House. The Russian government, which has denied responsibility for the hacking, has vowed to respond to any new sanctions with unspecified counter-measures.
The joint report will include newly declassified information exposing the internet infrastructure that Russia used in the cyberattacks, including malware and computer addresses, according to the official who asked asked not to be identified before the report is made public.
The release is intended to serve two purposes: to help prove the Russian government carried out the hacking while also frustrating officials in Moscow by exposing some of their most sensitive hacking infrastructure, the official said.
And now we await as Putin retaliates, which he will momentarily, just as promised.
Obama’s executive order is below.