In advance of a potential further invasion of Ukraine, Russian intelligence services, mainly the Federal Security Service (FSB), a U.S. sanctioned entity, have been recruiting Ukrainian nationals in key positions to gain access to sensitive information. The FSB leverages these officials in an attempt to create instability in Ukraine. In close coordination with the Government of Ukraine, the United States is working to identify, expose, and impose costs on these actors in order to foil these influence operations.
The United States today is imposing sanctions on four individuals connected to ongoing Russian intelligence service-directed influence activities designed to destabilize Ukraine.
This action is intended to target, highlight, and undercut Russia’s ongoing destabilization effort in Ukraine. It is separate and distinct from the broad range of high impact measures the United States and its allies and partners are prepared to impose in order to inflict significant costs on the Russian economy and financial system if it were to further invade Ukraine.
The individuals we are targeting, two of whom are members of Ukraine’s parliament, act at the direction of the FSB and support Russia’s destabilizing and dangerous influence operations, which undermine not just Ukraine but also the fundamental principles of democracy. The four individuals designated today include Taras Kozak, Oleh Voloshyn, Volodymyr Oliynyk, and Vladimir Sivkovich. This action is in line with other actions that we have taken to target Russian disinformation campaigns, including 32 election interference designations that we announced in April 2021.
Russia has used hybrid tactics, including disinformation and other influence campaigns, to destabilize Ukraine for years. In 2020, Kremlin officials launched a comprehensive information operation plan designed in part to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian state to independently function; the individuals designated today played key roles in that campaign.
Russia’s influence campaigns are not only focused on Ukraine. For over a decade, Russia has employed disinformation outlets and intelligence service affiliates globally to spread false narratives in support of its strategic goals. Since at least 2016, Russian intelligence services have sought to influence U.S. elections through a number of tactics. For example, Taras Kozak used the media platforms he owns both to denigrate senior members of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s inner circle and amplify false narratives around the 2020 U.S. elections.
The United States will continue to take steps, including through actions like this one, and in partnership with the Ukrainian government, to identify, expose, and undercut Russia’s destabilization efforts in Ukraine. The United States also will continue to expose and counter Russia’s global campaign of malign influence, in Ukraine and beyond.