FOD Saying of the Day
If you want someone who will listen to you every time, do everything you tell them to do, and always be there for you for better or for worse, get a dog.
New Russian Sanctions
The US Treasury Department issued tough sanctions on Thursday against Russian entities and individuals for what it said were “ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia.” Among the institutions targeted in the new sanctions for election meddling were Russia’s top intelligence services; the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). Also included was the Internet Research Agency, which was recently indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election. The FSB is being sanctioned for the use of cyber tools in targeting US officials “including cyber security, diplomatic, military, and White House personnel.” The GRU, as well as a number of its top officials, is being sanctioned for its direct involvement in “interfering in the 2016 US election through cyber-enabled activities.” The Treasury also says that the GRU was “directly responsible” for the June 2017 NotPetya cyberattack on European businesses. The Internet Research Agency and 13 individuals connected to it are being sanctioned for using fake identities online as well as posting thousands of online ads in an effort to sow confusion among US voters. Sanctions also target a number of individuals for ongoing attempts to hack the US energy grid. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says, “The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in US elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure.” The move is seen as significant as the Trump administration and, above all, President Donald Trump himself, have been slow to criticize Russia for election meddling, fearing it may undermine the legitimacy of his victory over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. Russian reaction: Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that although Moscow was calm about the sanctions, it had already begun “to prepare a response.” He also accused the US of timing the sanctions announcement to coincide with this weekend’s Russian presidential elections, saying, “It is tied to US internal disorder, tied of course to our electoral calendar.” And there was an election in Russia over this past weekend. The 65-year-old head of state, Vladimir Putin, waited for a long time until he announced he would again stand as a presidential candidate. According to some observers, Putin was toying with people’s fears that the “father of the nation” might not run for the presidency again. Then came the move which had to be expected. Putin chose a symbolic venue to announce that he would run for the post: the legendary Russian GAZ car factory in Nizhny Novgorod, in front of workers who supported him when he said he’d like to throw his hat into the ring again. Putin is not fond of conventional campaigning, including TV debates. He prefers to present himself as a savior of rare animal species, or as a brave huntsman or fisherman. Opinion polls seem to prove that his approach is successful. With approval rates between 75 and 83 percent, Putin is considered to be the most popular politician in Russia. However, another part of the truth is that the Kremlin — since Putin came to power in 2000 — has been marginalizing free and critical media, and putting Russian opposition under pressure, thereby nipping any real alternative in the bud. Putin didn’t show much respect for those people who officially announced his candidacy on December 26. He didn’t show up for his own nomination. Even so, he submitted his records to the central election commission in person — as an independent candidate. And he won by over 65% in this ceremonial election which in one news clip I saw actually showed an election official putting numerous ballots into a ballot box.