The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday slapped new sanctions on Russia, including five business entities and three individuals. In announcing the sanctions, the Treasury Department said the individuals and businesses had worked hand-in-hand with Russian military and intelligence services in conducting cyberattacks against the United States. One of the businesses involved is controlled by Russia’s Federal Security Service known as “FSB.”
The sanctions were reportedly imposed as a response to “Russia’s malign and destabilizing cyber activities” against the United States and its allies.
“The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
The timing of the announcement of the new Russian sanctions was very interesting — and possibly very suspicious — since it came one day after the end of the contentious G7 Summit in Canada. Â At that summit President Trump had demanded that Russia be allowed to rejoin the G7 group of economically advanced nations.
Trump was heavily criticized and chastised for his position that Russia should be added to the group. Â Â The other nations said that by stealing the Crimea from Ukraine, and by interfering in the elections of the U.S. and Europe, Russia had proven itself to be a rogue state that was not worthy of joining the G7 group again.
By announcing the sanctions on Monday, President Trump is sending mixed signals about Russia’s place in the world order. Â Some observers believe that the sanctions won’t mean much but will make Trump look like he is being tough on Russia. At the very least, they underscore Trump’s contradictory messages when it comes to dealing with Russia.
The new sanctions also target Russia’s underwater capabilities. The Treasury statement said that Russia has been tracking undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data. There has been a great deal of concern that this tracking of undersea cables means that Russia intends to sever those cables to disrupt the operations of the governments and the economies of the U.S. and Western Europe.
“The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies,” said Mnuchin’s statement.
The firms hit with sanctions on Monday have been improving Russia’s global cyber capabilities working closely with the FSB.Â These activities have threatened the security of the U.S. and its allies, Mnuchin said.Â