US imposes fresh sanctions on Russia
Powerful oligarch and close Putin ally Yevgeniy Prigozhin among those targeted
The Trump administration has announced it is enacting new sanctions on Russia, in an effort to punish Moscow for its interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Fairfax Media reports that among those being sanctioned are “two major Russian intelligence agencies, and a St Petersburg-based “troll farm”, the Internet Research Agency, accused of producing fake news”, as well as 19 individuals linked to those organisations.
The list includes powerful Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a close supporter and ally of Vladimir Putin who is also known as “Putin’s chef” because he owns a catering company that services the Kremlin.
The White House has also indicated that further sanctions are coming, over accusations that Russia had hacked into vital US infrastructure over a two-year period.
The Guardian says malware which had been traced back to Russia was found in the operating systems of “several organisations and companies in the US energy, nuclear, water and ‘critical manufacturing’ sector.”
In announcing the sanctions, the White House also formally backed the UK’s assessment that Russia is almost certainly responsible for the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
The Washington Post reports that the sanctions “fell well short of the full penalties” approved almost unanimously by Congress last August, which Donald Trump had previously declined to enact.
Top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, welcomed the sanctions as “an important step by the administration,” but added that “more must be done.”
Ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, has described the sanctions as a “grievous disappointment”, adding they fall far short of what is required to “deter Russia’s escalating aggression, which now includes a chemical weapons attack on the soil of our closest ally.”