US imposes new sanctions hitting Russians, Skripal poisoners

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Washington, Dec 20 (IANS) The Donald Trump administration has imposed a new set of sanctions on Russian entities and individuals including two men who allegedly carried out an assassination attempt on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK last year.

The Wednesday’s sanctions were in response to “Russia’s continued disregard for international norms”, said the US Department of Treasury in a statement on Wednesday.

The measures were announced against entities tied to “Project Lakhta”, which the Treasury Department said was part of an effort tied to the infamous Internet Research Agency and a slew of current and former members of Russia’s intelligence service, the GRU, for trying to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

The announcement also named GRU and Russian military intelligence officers who were accused of targeting the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and other international organizations “using cyber hacking techniques”, CNN reported.

Russian men Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were hit with sanctions for carrying out the nerve agent attack on the Skripals. They previously told the Russian network RT that they were in Salisbury around the time of the attack, but as tourists, not assassins.

The new sanctions came the same day the Treasury Department announced it was lifting sanctions on certain Russian firms, including aluminium giant Rusal and EN+ Group, the company that holds Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s stake in the Russian aluminium company.

Both announcements mentioned Deripaska and said he would remain on the US sanctions list. The announcement of new measures also included a designation against Victor Alekseyevich Boyarkin, whom the Treasury called “a former GRU officer who reports directly to Deripaska”.

–IANS

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