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US puts trade restrictions on six Russian organisations

The move comes after the US blamed Russia for the SolarWinds attack in April

The US has restricted trade with four Russian IT firms as well as two other entities over “aggressive and harmful” activities. 

A Commerce department posting outlined that the six entities were sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in April, as reported by Reuters.  By joining the Department's blacklist, US companies will no longer be able to sell to them without a license.

The organisations added to the blacklist are Aktsionernoe Obshchaestvo AST, Aktsionernoe Obshchestvo Pasit; Aktsionernoe Obshchestvo Pozitiv Teknolodzhiz, also known as JSC Positive Technologies, Federal State Autonomous Institution Military Innovative Technopolis Era, Federal State Autonomous Scientific Establishment Scientific Research Institute Specialized Security Computing Devices and Automation (SVA), and Obshchestvo S Ogranichennoi Otvetstvennostyu Neobit.

The US believes that Era is operated by the Russian Ministry of Defense, Pasit is an IT company that supports Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service’s malicious cyber operations, SVA is a Russian state-owned organisation that also supports malicious cyber operations, and Russia-based IT security firms Neobit, AST, and Positive Technologies have the Russian government as one of their clients.

The move comes after the UK government stated in April that the Russian foreign intelligence service SVR was behind last year’s SolarWinds cyber attack. The attack affected the systems of 18,000 organisations across the world, including US government departments like Homeland Security. Russian state-backed hackers were the main suspects for carrying out the attack. 

To coincide with the statement, president Joe Biden announced new sanctions targeting 32 Russian entities and officials, as well as expelling 10 diplomats. The president said that the sanctions were “proportionate” and in response to the Solarwinds incident as well as Russia’s attempt to influence the 2020 presidential election.

The following month, the head of the Russian Intelligence Service denied any involvement in the Solarwinds attack, with its director Sergei Naryshkin saying he was “flattered” by the accusations. Naryshkin suggested the attacks could have been orchestrated by the West and questioned the evidence obtained by US and UK intelligence agencies that linked the attack to Moscow.

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