New US sanctions for Russia’s “malicious cyber activity”

As foreshadowed earlier today (here), the USA has imposed new sanctions on Russia “in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election”. The White House statement says:

“These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior. All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions. In October, my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process. These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year. Such activities have consequences.”

The new measures (links here) include:

  1. An executive order (link here) amending the 2015 order (on which see previous blog) that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine the US election processes and institutions, or those of the USA’s allies or partners.
  2. Designations using this amended executive order, of 9 entities and individuals:  the GRU and the FSB (Russian intelligence services), 4 officers of the GRU, and 3 companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.
  3. Designations of 2 Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.
  4. The shutting down of 2 Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes.
  5. Declarations as “persona non grata” of 35 Russian intelligence operatives.
  6. Publication by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation of a Joint Analysis Report which releases declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity, to help network defenders in the US and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s “global campaign of malicious cyber activities”.

The White House statement makes clear that “these actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized. In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance. To that end, my Administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections.”

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About Maya Lester QC

Maya Lester QC

Maya Lester QC is a senior barrister (Queen’s Counsel) at Brick Court Chambers with a wide-ranging practice in public law, European law, competition law, international law, human rights & civil liberties. She has a particular expertise in sanctions. The legal directories say she is the...

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