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Treasury Department Sanctions Russian-Backed Actors for Activities in Ukraine

January 20, 2022 by Dan McCue
Treasury Department Sanctions Russian-Backed Actors for Activities in Ukraine
The U.S. Treasury Department. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department on Thursday sanctioned four individuals engaged in Russian government-directed activities to destabilize Ukraine.

The four individuals are Taras Kozak and Oleh Voloshyn, two current members of the Ukraine Parliament, and Volodymyr Oliynyk and Vladimir Sivkovich, both former Ukraine officials.

In a press release, the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said the action is intended to target, undermine, and expose Russia’s ongoing destabilization effort in Ukraine. 

It also says the sanctions are “separate and distinct” from the broad range of high impact measures the United States and its allies and partners are prepared to impose in order to inflict significant costs on the Russian economy and financial system if it were to further invade Ukraine.

Kozak and Voloshyn are political associates of Victor Medvedchuk, a political party chieftain in Ukraine, who is already subject to US sanctions for his role in undermining Ukrainian sovereignty in 2014. 

In addition, Kozak controls several news channels in Ukraine and is said to have used them to amplify false word of disruptions and problems during the 2020 elections.

As in previous Russian incursions into Ukraine, the Treasury Department said, cyber operations against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure are part of Russia’s hybrid tactics to threaten the region. 

“The United States is taking action to expose and counter Russia’s dangerous and threatening campaign of influence and disinformation in Ukraine,” said Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo. “We are committed to taking steps to hold Russia accountable for their destabilizing actions.”

Russia’s influence campaigns are not only focused on Ukraine. For over a decade, Russia has employed disinformation outlets and intelligence service affiliates to spread false narratives in support of its strategic goals. Since at least 2016, Russian agents have even sought to influence US elections by spreading disinformation, sowing discord among US audiences and falsely denigrating U.S. politicians and political parties.

The overall strategy is designed to pull Ukraine into Russia’s orbit by thwarting Ukraine’s efforts at Western integration, especially with the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

As Russia has pursued broad cyber operations against critical infrastructure, it has focused on disrupting one critical infrastructure sector in particular: Ukraine’s energy sector. 

Russia has also degraded Ukraine’s access to energy products in the middle of winter. Acting through Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom, Russia has repeatedly disrupted supplies to Ukraine — a vital transshipment country with pipelines to other European countries — due to purported disputes over gas pricing. 

The Treasury Department says Sivkovich coordinated with Russian intelligence services to promote a disinformation campaign against the US 2020 presidential election. Sivkovich, who has ties to the FSB, also supported an influence operation targeting the United States from 2019 to 2020. 

Sivkovich is being designated pursuant to Executive Order 14024 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the government of the Russian Federation.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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