US Slaps Russia With More Sanctions, Threatens ‘Economic Pain’ If Russia Doesn’t Change Its Behavior

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The Department of the Treasury issued new rounds of sanctions on Russian companies and individuals, and Washington is prepared to impose more if Moscow doesn’t change its behavior, Trump administration officials said Tuesday.

The first round of sanctions were imposed on two Russians, one Russian company and one Slovakian company for their efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions imposed in June over malicious cyber-related activities.

“The Treasury Department is disrupting Russian efforts to circumvent our sanctions,” Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin said in a statement. “Today’s action against these deceptive actors is critical to ensure that the public is aware of the tactics undertaken by designated parties and that these actors remain blocked from the U.S. financial system.”

Mnuchin slapped sanctions on two companies, Vela-Marine Ltd and Lacno S.R.O., and two people, Marina Igorevna Tsareva and Anton Aleksandrovich Nagibin, over their role in helping Divetechnoservices evade sanctions. (RELATED: Treasury Department Hits Russia With Hacking Sanctions)

The June sanctions also targeted Russia’s underwater capabilities, which have been active in tracking underwater communication cables, which hold the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data.

On Russia’s foreign ministry website, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the sanctions would be met with Russian response, according to Reuters.

The Treasury Department also targeted Russian shipping companies that the U.S. said were involved in transferring refined petroleum to North Korean-flagged ships, which is a violation of the United Nations Security Council.

“Ship-to-ship transfers with North Korea-flagged vessels from Russia or elsewhere of any goods being supplied, sold, or transferred to or from the DPRK are prohibited under the UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea and are sanctionable under U.S. law,” Mnuchin said in a separate statement for these additional sanctions.

Lawmakers also discussed imposing harsher consequences over Russia’s activities, saying they need to counteract the country’s “malign” behavior.

“Though Russia’s malign activities continue, we believe its adventurism undoubtedly has been checked by the knowledge that we can bring much more economic pain to bear using our powerful range of authorities — and that we will not hesitate to do so if its conduct does not demonstrably and significantly change,” Sigal Mandelker, the Acting Deputy Treasury Secretary, told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Members on both sides of the aisle in Congress have criticized Trump over his handling of Russian President Vladimir Putin and for failing to stand up for the U.S. intelligence community in Helsinki, Poland, in June.

Microsoft announced on Tuesday that Russian military intelligence had attempted to target and hack into multiple conservative think tanks and made websites to appear to belong to the U.S. Senate last week, The Seattle Times reports.

Russia rejected Microsoft’s allegations and said there was no evidence to support them and has also denied allegations that it hacked into the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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