US Rolls Out New Russia Sanctions Over Election Meddling, Skripal Poisoning

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it will impose sanctions on more than a dozen Russian individuals and entities in connection with U.S. election meddling and other activities that amount to "continued disregard for international norms."

The financial penalties target at least 15 members of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service, for a "wide range of malign activity" that includes "efforts to undermine international organizations through cyber-enabled means, and an assassination attempt in the United Kingdom," the Treasury Department said in a news release.

Nine of the GRU operatives were targeted for their involvement in a campaign to disrupt U.S. elections by targeting state election systems and political parties, according to Tresury officials. The nine officers have already been indicted in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Other GRU officers targeted in the new round of sanctions include Alexander Peterov and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected of carrying out a nerve agent attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter earlier this year. The Skripals survived the assassination attempt in Salisbury, England, but the incident drew widespread condemnation and sanctions against Moscow by several Western governments, including the U.S. and Britain.

Treasury also sanction four current and former GRU officers for their alleged roles in hacking the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and other international bodies. Further financial penalties were imposed on individuals and companies associated with Project Lakhta, a Kremlin-backed political influence operation with ties to the notorious Internet Research Agency.

The sanctions freeze the property and financial assets of the named individuals subject to U.S. jurisdiction, while blocking Americans from doing business with them.

"The United States will continue to work with international allies and partners to take collective action to deter and defend against sustained malign activity by Russia, its proxies, and intelligence agencies," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

One of the individuals singled out in Treasury's announcement was Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Deripaksa himself has been under U.S. sanction since April, but the new round of sanctions adds a former GRU officer who reports directly to the Russian billionaire and has conducted negotiations on his behalf.

Fresh sanctions on Russia come on the same day the Trump administration lifted financial penalties on Russian aluminum giant Rusal and two other companies in which Deripaska has a major ownership stake. In exchange for the removal of sanctions, the companies have agreed to cut ties with Deripaska and open their books to auditing by U.S. authorities.

"These companies have committed to significantly diminish Deripaska's ownership and sever his control," Mnuchin said. "The companies will be subject to ongoing compliance and will face severe consequences if they fail to comply."

Deripaska remains on the so-called Specially Designated Nationals list, which prevents U.S. companies and individuals from engaging in financial activity with him.