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Illustration by Security Management

U.S. Issues New Sanctions for Russia

In response to the country’s alleged misconduct linked to the SolarWinds hack and attempts to generate confusion in the United States’ election process, the Biden administration levied new sanctions on Russia.   

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the sanctions also target “technology companies that support the Russian Intelligence Services’ efforts to carry out malicious cyber activities against the United States.” Six Russian technology companies were designated by the Treasury department as ones that function in the Russian Federation economy’s technology sector, including Neobit, an IT security firm based in St. Petersburg, Russia, that provided support or services to Russia’s Ministry of Defense, Foreign Intelligence Services, Federal Security Service, and Main Intelligence Directorate, the country’s foreign military intelligence agency. 

“The Russian Intelligence Services—specifically the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), and the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)—have executed some of the most dangerous and disruptive cyberattacks in recent history, including the SolarWinds cyberattack,” the Treasury Department’s press release said. The FSB and GRU were recently sanctioned for other incidents in 2016, 2018, and 2 March 2021. 

With regards to the discovery of the SolarWinds breach, the administration maintains that Russian hackers infected the firm’s software through its supply chain, allowing cyberattckers to access the firm’s customers’ systems. Unfortunately, SolarWinds “did business with numerous U.S. federal government departments and agencies, telecommunications firms, Fortune 500 companies, and many others,” Security Management reported in a March 2021 article, “Spies in the Supply Chain.” The breach was initially revealed in December 2020. 

The Treasury Department also sanctioned 32 groups and persons for involvement in attempts to disrupt the 2020 U.S. presidential elections on behalf of the Russian government.  

The sanctions on the financial front will “complicate Moscow’s ability to raise money in the international capital markets,” The Washington Post reported. Effective 14 June, the move prohibits U.S. financial organizations from buying new debt released by Russia’s Finance Ministry, its central bank, and sovereign wealth fund. “Some Russian officials discounted the move saying it is easy for investors to work around the restriction by investing in bonds on the secondary market through an intermediary.” 

A White House press release noted that the Treasury Department partnered with the European Union, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom to sanction eight organizations and persons over Russia’s military occupation in Crimea. Although Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the territory is recognized by most nations as Ukranian.