US sanctions target Russia’s influence campaign in Moldova

The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on members of a group linked to Russian intelligence for their role in Moscow’s attempts to destabilize democracy and influence elections in Moldova, the Treasury Department said.

The ministry said in a statement that the new sanctions target seven Russian individuals, some of whom have links to Russian intelligence services. Among them, the ministry said, was the leader of the group, Konstantin Prokopievich Sapozhnikov, who orchestrated a plot to destabilize the Moldovan government in early 2023.

The Treasury Department said the group is part of a large global intelligence operation linked to Russia targeting Ukraine and neighboring countries, as well as the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The ministry added that members of the group provoke, train and supervise groups in democratic countries, and conduct anti-government protests, rallies, marches and demonstrations.

Among the individuals: Yuri Yuryevich McCullough, who the Treasury Department says was involved in logistical support for the plot. Gleb Maksimovich Khloponin, who collected security details at several government buildings in Moldova; And Alexei Vyacheslavovich Losev, who conducted reconnaissance in Moldova, according to the Treasury Department. She added that Svetlana Andreevna Boyko and Vasily Viktorovich Gromovikov dealt with the budget and financing of the 2023 scheme.

“These malign influencers analyze countries vulnerable to exploitation and stoke fears that undermine faith in democratic principles in targeted countries,” the ministry said in the statement.

Moldovan Foreign Minister Nico Popescu welcomed the imposition of the sanctions, describing them on Facebook as “an important step in our joint efforts to maintain stability and order in our country”.

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Brian Nelson, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Monday’s sanctions exposed Russia’s continued efforts to destabilize democratic countries.

The European Union and Canada also imposed sanctions on Moldovans last week, citing destabilizing actions.

Megan Vasquez

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