- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Trump administration may sanction Russia in part over NotPetya, a suspected state-sponsored cyberattack that infected Ukrainian computers last June before spreading to systems in the U.S. and abroad, senior officials told Reuters.

The U.S. is weighing sanctioning Russia in response to Moscow allegedly authorizing both the NotPetya attack and efforts targeting the 2016 White House race, senior U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity, Reuters reported Wednesday.

“The process on sanctions is long; it’s arduous; it’s not pretty, but when the evidence is there and we’re ready, we go ahead with the sanctions,” said one official.

It is a “certainty” that the U.S will act in response to the NotPetya attack, said another, according to Reuters.

The White House did not immediately return an email concerning the claims made in the Reuters report.

The Obama administration sanctioned Russia in late 2016 for allegedly interfering in that year’s White House race, and both Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly passed a new sanctions bill last summer over Moscow’s role in the election. The Trump administration has failed to follow through, however, and last month the president declined against sanctioning Russians under the newly enacted law.

Separate from efforts targeting the 2016 race, the White House last week formally blamed Russia for NotPetya, calling it “the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history,” echoing previously assessments made by allies including the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“It was part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilize Ukraine and demonstrates ever more clearly Russia’s involvement in the ongoing conflict. This was also a reckless and indiscriminate cyberattack that will be met with international consequences,” White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement last week.

NotPetya initially infected Ukrainian computer systems before spreading to machines around the world, including systems used by American shipping giant FedEx, Dutch competitor Maersk and Russia’s Rosneft, among others, ultimately causing hundreds of millions of dollars in related damages.

Russia has denied both waging the NotPetya attack and meddling in Mr. Trump’s election.

“This is nothing more than a continuation of a Russophobic campaign that is without proof,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week with respect to NotPetya.

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