Trump is finally sanctioning Russia

The new sanctions are being implemented more than a month after congressional deadlines for doing so had passed

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 15, 2018 12:27PM (EDT)

 (AP/Alexei Nikolsky/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP/Alexei Nikolsky/Carolyn Kaster)

More than a month after President Donald Trump missed a congressional deadline for implementing sanctions against Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 election, the punitive measures are now finally being put into place.

The sanctions include measures taken against a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, according to CNN. The Internet Research Agency has been accused of generating divisive political posts on social media platforms that they hoped would create internal political instability within the United States. The sanctions also singled out one of the Internet Research Agency's financial backers, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, who is believed to have a close relationship with Russia's despotic leader, President Vladimir Putin.

Five entities and 19 individuals received the new sanctions Thursday — including 13 individuals besides Prigozhin who have been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for meddling in the 2016 election. They'll be barred from the United States and their assets will be frozen.

The process for putting the sanctions in place was a long and arduous one: Congress had to force Trump's hand by passing the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act in August, which Trump signed reluctantly. Although Trump had been given deadlines of October and January for producing lists of targets for the sanctions and then imposing them (respectively), he missed both of those deadlines by several weeks.

The Trump administration mentioned an alleged Russian attempt to meddle with America's energy grid as well as other cyberattacks. The government may also have been pushed to act in the wake of the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom.

Trump himself acknowledged Russia's likely culpability in the attack in the United Kingdom, an important milestone for an administration that has been criticized for its seeming reluctance to take a hard stance against Russia.

"I spoke with the Prime Minister and we are in deep discussions," Trump told reporters regarding the United Kingdom attack, during a press conference with Irish politican Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. "A very sad situation. It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it. Something that should never, ever happen and we're taking it very seriously as, I think, are many others."

Since he was elected president, Trump has been unwilling to agree with the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. But over the past few years, numerous connections between Trump and Russia have emerged, and his statements praising Vladimir Putin have raised eyebrows.

During the Republican National Convention, his campaign softened the party's platform on dealing with Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. And then there's the central question of getting involved, when he said, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," when talking about his opponent.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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2016 Presidential Election Donald Trump Russia Vladimir Putin