Treasury Department hits Russian Federation with sanctions over 2016 election meddling

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The accusations and accompanying Russian sanctions were the most severe yet by the Trump administration in connection with hacking and other efforts to sow discord in America's democracy and compromise its infrastructure. "The recent use of a military-grade nerve agent in an attempt to murder two United Kingdom citizens further demonstrates the reckless and irresponsible conduct of its government". The attack had all the fingerprints of a Russian spy operation, especially in its use of a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia and banned by an worldwide treaty on chemical weapons. Pictured is Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.

"(It's) something that should never, ever happen. "I spoke with the Prime Minister and we are in deep discussions".

The White House said on Thursday that Russian Federation had a decision to make as it moves forward. He says he has no business in the US, and he adds he won't eat at McDonald's in response to the penalties.

His administration slapped financial sanctions against numerous same individuals recently charged in the Robert Mueller probe.

The list of Russians being punished includes all 13 indicted last month by special counsel Robert Mueller, a tacit acknowledgement by the administration that at least some of Mueller's Russia-related probe has merit.

It described other ominous activity as well.

"The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in USA elections, destructive cyberattacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The attacks are ongoing, he continued, but all the known penetrated systems have been protected.

Reaction from Russian Federation was swift.

"Russia's behaviour continues to trouble us and we are continuing to push back in meaningful ways", a senior national security official said.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in the southern English town of Salisbury earlier this month.

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A prominent Russian targeted by new USA sanctions has mocked the penalties, and says he'll respond by boycotting McDonald's. They have already warned that any action against them will be met with a reaction, including booting out foreign journalists in their own state-run networks.

Officials said it was initially targeted at Ukraine but was allowed to "propagate recklessly without bounds" and caused an estimated $10bn in damage around the world, making it the most damaging cyber-attack in history.

On Thursday, one Russian lawmaker suggested the attack could have been staged by anyone - even the USA, or a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partner. "Except that now I will stop going to McDonald's", he was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.

"In all likelihood, their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners from Britain also had this access".

The action follows the indictment in February of individuals and companies related to the Russian Internet Research Agency's attempts to disrupt the USA political system.

On Thursday, administration officials insisted the new measures weren't the end of their efforts to punish Russian Federation.

An attorney for The Trump Organization said in a statement to The Associated Press that the company has been "fully cooperative" with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation since July 2017.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment on the Times report about a subpoena, which was the first known time Mueller had demanded materials directly related to Trump's businesses.

In total five entities and 19 individuals, who were named as subjects of an indictment in February, are being slapped with a sanction. "These sanctions will send a message to Russian Federation, just not the one we want to send".

"This from the president who said he was tougher on Russian Federation than Obama".

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