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Breaking: Trump administration slaps sanctions on Russia over 2016 election meddling

US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on Nov. 11. The Trump administration has announced new sanctions against Russia for attempted interference in the 2016 election. (Jorge Silva/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration has imposed new sanctions on Russia as retaliation for Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election, and for cyberattacks on other nations. The sanctions will specifically target 19 individuals and five entities. These include Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin, who is known as “Putin’s chef,” is connected to the Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” based in St. Petersburg. He was also one of the 13 people indicted by Robert Mueller in February.

“The Administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a press release today.  “These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia.  Treasury intends to impose additional CAATSA sanctions, informed by our intelligence community, to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the U.S. financial system.”

The Treasury Department press release specifically called out the Internet Research Agency, saying that it “tampered with, altered, or caused a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes and institutions.” Prigozhin, it said, had “provided material assistance” to the group.

The 2016 election interference wasn’t the only reason the Treasury Department gave for the sanctions:

In addition to countering Russia’s malign cyber activity, Treasury continues to pressure Russia for its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, occupy Crimea, meddle in elections, as well as for its endemic corruption and human rights abuses. The recent use of a military-grade nerve agent in an attempt to murder two UK citizens further demonstrates the reckless and irresponsible conduct of its government.

On March 4, a Russian defector living in England and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent. The nerve agent used was later discovered to be Novichok, a type designed by the Russians during the Cold War.

This morning, President Trump released a joint statement with British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel asking Russia to cooperate in the investigation into the use of the Russian-made nerve agent on British soil.

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