The bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell announced on Thursday the Council had decided to impose its first-ever sanctions on targeted individuals and entities from Russia, China and North Korea, over massive cyberattacks in the previous years.

The measures include a travel ban and an asset freeze, while EU individuals, companies and other entities are forbidden from making funds available to those believed to be behind the WannaCry, NotPetya and Cloud Hopper cyberattacks.

The sanctions are the first ever imposed by the EU under its new cyber-sanctions regime, that was adopted in 2019, and target Russia’s military intelligence unit (GRU), China’s Tianjin Huaying Haitai Science & technology development Co., and North Korea’s Chosun Expo.

“The EU remains committed to a global, open, stable, peaceful and secure cyberspace. With the imposition of the first targeted measures under the cyber sanctions regime, the EU is determined to prevent, deter and respond to continuing and increasing malicious behaviour in cyberspace,” reads a statement by EU’s External Action Service. 

The Union’s move was applauded by the US, which supported that the EU and the US “share a vision for an open, interoperable, reliable and secure cyberspace, and for responsible behavior on the international stage.”

“The United States supports efforts to promote accountability for bad actors’ malicious cyber activities, and the EU’s actions today are an important milestone,” US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said in a statement. 

Earlier in July, the German government had proposed that the EU impose sanctions on Russian hackers responsible for a large-scale cyberattack on the Bundestag in 2015. The proposal was sent to member states, which needed to give their nod, for the decision to be adopted, with media reports claiming than an agreement was reached by EU ambassadors last week.

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