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19 May, 2023 19:02

US sanctions Russian intel agency

Moscow’s Foreign Intelligence Service was blacklisted along with a host of defense and energy industry figures
US sanctions Russian intel agency

The US imposed sanctions on the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation (SVR) on Friday. The decision follows last month’s blacklisting of Russia’s internal intelligence agency, the FSB.

The SVR was sanctioned “for being a political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of the Russian Federation,” according to a press release published by the US Treasury Department. 

The agency was one of more than 300 individuals and entities sanctioned on Friday. The list includes international businesspeople and companies accused of helping Russia procure raw materials and technological goods, Russian importers of these goods, Russian educational and research institutes, and dozens of aircraft and vessels allegedly linked to the Russian state or the Wagner private military company.

The SVR’s work is unlikely to be affected by the sanctions, as foreign intelligence gathering is clandestine by nature. The agency’s current director, Sergey Naryshkin, was appointed in 2016 despite being sanctioned by the US and UK since 2014. Naryshkin was sanctioned again by the US in 2022.

In a statement last year, Naryshkin ridiculed the US and its allies for relying on sanctions to punish their enemies, declaring that they do so because they “have neither the ability nor the courage” to fight “in an open and honest military and political stand-off.”

The blacklisting of the SVR came less than a month after the US sanctioned Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) over the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and other US nationals. Gershkovich has been accused by Moscow of attempting to steal state secrets from the “Russian military-industrial complex.”

Like Naryshkin, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov is no stranger to sanctions, having been blacklisted by the US since last April. Multiple FSB officers and suspected agents have also been sanctioned by the US since Russia’s military operation in Ukraine began, and the agency itself has been named on sanctions lists in 2016, 2018, and 2021.

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