The Treasury Department sanctioned 16 people and 16 entities related to Russia’s election interference efforts. They include SouthFront, NewsFront and the Strategic Culture Foundation, described by the department as disinformation sites with ties to Russian intelligence. Additionally, the department took new action to sanction Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a backer of the Internet Research Agency, which carried out Russia’s election interference campaign in 2016, and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence agent who falsely claimed Ukraine was behind the 2016 interference effort.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order granting the Treasury Department new authorities to sanction Russian government hackers and the information technology companies supporting them. The department used the new powers to sanction a half-dozen Russian companies that conduct research and development and technical support to Russian intelligence relating to a number of hacks, including the massive SolarWinds breach. The best-known sanctioned company is Positive Technologies, a cybersecurity firm with a global clientele, including major banks and telecoms; Microsoft said Thursday it was removing it from a list of partners to which it provides early access to vulnerability data. Treasury officials said Russian intelligence services recruit hackers at conventions hosted by Positive, whose first major clients included Russia’s Defense Ministry in 2004.
Acting in partnership with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, the U.S. sanctioned Russian people and entities that have supported Russia’s claimed annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, which is not recognized by the international community. Russian companies that helped build a bridge linking Crimea to Russia and Russian officials serving in leadership positions in Crimea were sanctioned jointly by the U.S. and its allies.
The U.S. targeted Russia’s ability to borrow money by prohibiting U.S. financial institutions from buying Russian bonds directly from the Russian Central Bank, the Russian National Wealth Fund and the Ministry of Finance.
The U.S. expelled 10 Russian diplomats, including some the Biden administration said were representatives of Russian intelligence services. The White House also said Biden was using diplomatic, military and intelligence channels to respond to reports that Russia encouraged the Taliban to attack U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan based on the “best assessments” of the intelligence community.