The U.S. Treasury Department is sanctioning 11 Russian intelligence-directed disinformation outlets and their leaders for spreading false narratives to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This marks the strongest set of actions the U.S. government has taken against Russian-government operated media since the invasion. The sanctioned people and entities will have their U.S. assets frozen.
The moves follow restrictions that U.S. social media companies Meta, Google and Twitter placed on the accounts of Russian government-funded RT and Sputnik news outlets in Europe and Ukraine earlier this week. However, Treasury did not take action against RT or Sputnik today.
False narratives: Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is sanctioning the Strategic Culture Foundation, Odna Rodyna, Rhythm of Eurasia, Journal Kamerton, InfoRos, SouthFront, United World International, New Eastern Outlook, Oriental Review and Geopolitica. The Treasury is also sanctioning these outlets’ high-level employees, as well as those at NewsFront, a Crimea-based propaganda outlet with links to the Federal Security Service, or FSB, a Russian intelligence agency.
The Treasury Department said the outlets are promoting false narratives and conspiracy theories, including labeling Ukraine and Ukrainian government officials as the aggressors in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Previous designations: Treasury had previously designated four of the outlets — the Strategic Culture Foundation, InfoRos, NewsFront and SouthFront — as sites run by Russian intelligence services last April.
The Strategic Culture Foundation (run by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service or SVR) and SouthFront (run by the FSB) were previously designated for engaging in foreign interference in the U.S. 2020 presidential election.
NewsFront was designated previously for spreading false news about the Covid-19 vaccine. InfoRos (operated by Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU), was designated for spreading false conspiracy theories in the past.
Hit ’em where it hurts: Today’s actions are part of a larger set of sanctions targeting additional Russian oligarchs. The State Department — as a matter of policy — doesn’t preview sanctions, according to a senior official. The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment concerning whether additional sanctions against RT or Sputnik are forthcoming, although CNN reported that the production company behind RT America has laid off most of it staff in the U.S.
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