The US Treasury Department on Thursday announced new sanctions against a Ukrainian lawmaker, accusing him of being an “active Russian agent” who is part of Moscow’s interference in the 2020 campaign.
The controversial Ukrainian lawmaker, Andrii Derkach, has close ties to President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and was already singled out earlier this summer by the US intelligence community for helping Moscow’s ongoing efforts to weaken Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Now, Derkach has been explicitly labeled a Russian agent by the US government and sanctioned for attempting to influence the upcoming election.
“Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Thursday, which was included in a Treasury announcement that said Derkach “has been an active Russian agent for over a decade” and maintained “close connections with the Russian intelligence services.”
“The United States will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to counter these Russian disinformation campaigns and uphold the integrity of our election system,” Mnuchin added.
The announcement on Thursday was an extraordinary step by the US government to publicly condemn Russia’s ongoing interference in the 2020 election. It shows how some parts of the US government are cracking down on Russia’s anti-Biden meddling, while Trump has openly embraced the Russian effort and hasn’t spoken out against it.
The news also raises the stakes for Giuliani, who collaborated with Derkach to spread anti-Biden material during Trump’s impeachment. The Treasury statement now means Giuliani collaborated with “an active Russian agent,” which is precisely the type of behavior that led to allegations of Trump-Russia collusion in the 2016 election. Asked about the news, Giuliani texted CNN, “Who cares.”
“I never put any of his information in my report to State, and met (Derkach) long after my investigation was over,” Giuliani told CNN late Thursday night, referring to a controversial packet of documents the former New York mayor gave to the State Department last year as part of his anti-Biden efforts. In his comments Thursday, Giuliani acknowledged that he received other documents from Derkach about Biden.
The Treasury Department said Derkach has waged a years-long “covert influence campaign” that centered on “cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning US officials in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election.”
Derkach has been added to a list of Specially Designated Nationals, meaning his assets have been blocked and “US persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them,” according to the Treasury Department.
Derkach is among a small group of Ukrainian political figures who have, over the past year, injected themselves into the 2020 election by promoting dubious claims of corruption against Biden and releasing alleged audiotapes fro