The EU imposes sanctions for the 2015 cyberattacks on the Bundestag | International

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a session in the Bundestag.HANNIBAL HANSCHKE / Reuters

The Council of the EU agreed on Thursday to impose sanctions on two military personnel and a military intelligence service of Russia for the cyber attacks that the Bundestag suffered in April and May 2015. The assault on the lower house's computer system allowed spies to seize a huge volume of data and emails, including those of Chancellor Angela Merkel herself.

The Twenty-seven resorted for the second time to the sanctions regime that allows them to punish cyberattacks. Last July they decided to punish six individuals involved in an action against the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The EU used that weapon again to punish Russia, of whom Merkel said last May she had "strong evidence" of being behind this cyber attack, which she called "outrageous".

According to the Official Gazette of the European Union, the two individuals sanctioned are Dimitry Sergeyevich Badin, a 29-year-old military intelligence agent of the Russian Army, and Igor Olegovich Kostyukov, 59, head of the Main Command of the Defense Staff of the Armed forces. In addition, the sanctions regime was also applied to the intelligence unit of the Russian Army known as “military unit 26165” or, among the hackers, also like Fancy Bear, Pawn Storm or Strontium. In addition to the cyber attack on the Bundestag, the EU attributes the cyber attack on the OPCW in April 2018 to that organization.

The sanctions, according to the Council, consist of a ban to travel to the territory of the European Union, in the case of the two Russian citizens, and the freezing of financial assets and properties that both Russian citizens and the military body may have in any of the 27 partners. Furthermore, European citizens and entities are prohibited from providing funds to both people. Following these sanctions, eight people and four entities have been sanctioned by the EU for cyberattacks.

The German prosecutor's office already issued an international arrest warrant against Badin for this cyber attack last May. Since then, relations between Berlin and Moscow have only deteriorated, especially after German doctors confirmed that Russian opponent Alexei Navalni had been the victim of an assassination attempt. Those recent clashes, to which is added Moscow's support for Aleksandr Lukashenko's Belarusian regime, drive Russia away from the EU despite Emmanuel Macron's efforts to promote a thaw between the two blocs.

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