The US on Thursday targeted members of the Russian technology sector in a crackdown on sanctions evasion, the US Treasury said in a news release.
The agency said it is sanctioning “21 entities and 13 individuals as part of its crackdown on the Kremlin’s sanctions evasion networks and technology companies, which are instrumental to the Russian Federation’s war machine.”
It has also determined “that sanctions apply to the aerospace, marine, and electronics sectors of the Russian Federation,” meaning that the US can “impose sanctions on any individual or entity determined to operate or have operated in any of those sectors.”
Among the sanctioned were three employees of a Russian government institute that is accused of building hacking tools that were used in a cyberattack that forced an emergency shutdown at a Saudi petrochemical facility in 2017. The hacking incident caused alarm among cybersecurity experts because the malicious code used was specifically designed to target safety systems that protect human life.
The institute — known as the State Research Center of the Russian Federation (FGUP) Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics — has billed itself as working closely with the Russian ministry of defense, according to the US Justice department. Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh, one of the three institute employees who was sanctioned Thursday, has been indicted for his role in the Saudi hacking incident and for unsuccessfully targeting a US energy firm, the Justice Department announced last week.