On December 29, 2016, the President issued an Executive Order, “Taking Additional Steps To Address The National Emergency With Respect To Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.” This amended Executive Order (EO) 13694, “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities,” increasing its scope to allow for the “imposition of sanctions on individuals and entities determined to be responsible for tampering, altering, or causing the misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.”

Sanctioned under the amended EO were six Russian individuals and five entities, including Russia’s Federal Security Service (a.k.a. the FSB), its Main Intelligence Directorate (a.k.a. the GRU), and four persons linked to the GRU. Additionally, the President expelled 35 suspected Russian spies from the U.S.

On January 6, 2017, after briefing both President Obama and President-elect Trump, U.S. intelligence officials released a declassified version of its report, “Assessing Russian Intentions and Activities in Recent US Elections: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution.”

Interference in EU Member States’ National Elections in 2017?

The developments in the U.S. have sparked fears of Russian interference in the French presidential election this spring and, perhaps more importantly, in the German general election in the fall of this year. In France, the two leading candidates on the right, François Fillion of the Republican Party and Marine Le Pen of the National Front, are both clearly supportive of closer ties with Russia.

The election of either may lead to the unraveling of the EU consensus on maintaining sanctions and a tough overall stance against Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been instrumental in ensuring this EU consensus, such that Russia may stand to gain most if her bid for re-election were unsuccessful. Accordingly, German security services are reported to monitor closely the danger of Russia trying to turn a European election.

For more information, contact: Carlton Greene, Cari Stinebower, Charles De Jager, Dj Wolff