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US Sanctions 5 Russian Entities, 3 Individuals

FILE - U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin holds a news conference after the G7 Finance Ministers Summit in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, June 2, 2018.

The U.S. sanctioned five Russian entities and three individuals Monday, accusing them of malicious cyber activities to provide material and technological support to Moscow's intelligence service.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctioned entities and individuals "have directly contributed to improving Russia's cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with "the Russian Federal Security Service "and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies."

He said the U.S. "is committed to aggressively targeting any entity or individual working at the direction" of the Russian intelligence service "whose work threatens the United States and will continue to utilize our sanctions authorities ... to counter the constantly evolving threats emanating from Russia."

The sanctions continue what appear to be conflicted messages from Washington about Moscow.

The U.S. has imposed a series of penalties against specific Russian activities. Yet just last week, President Donald Trump suggested that Russia be allowed to rejoin the G-7 group of advanced economies after being pushed out in 2014 for its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. Trump has also been discussing the possibility of a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The sanctions announced Monday block access for those blacklisted to any U.S. financial accounts they hold and prohibit Americans from any transactions with them.

The Treasury statement said the five entities and three individuals have engaged in "malign and destabilizing cyber activities," including intrusions "against the U.S. energy grid to potentially enable future offensive operations" and "global compromises of network infrastructure devices."

It said the sanctions also target Russia's underwater capabilities, which it said include tracking undersea communications cables that carry the bulk of the world's telecommunications data.

The U.S. said one of the entities, Divetechno services, bought underwater equipment and diving services for the intelligence service, including a $1.5 million submersible craft. The three sanctioned individuals all worked for the company.