Britain will enforce asset freezes and travel bans against two officers from the Russian military intelligence service (GRU) who are blamed for a 2015 cyber attack on the German parliament.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK stands “shoulder to shoulder” with European partners to hold Moscow to account, and said the behaviour brings Vladimir Putin’s government into “further disrepute”.
The Russian officers and the GRU’s military intelligence unit 26165, codenamed APT28 and Fancy Bear, will face immediate sanctions under the European Union Cyber Sanctions regime.
The unit has long been identified as the likely source of the attack on the German parliament five years ago, during which data was stolen and the email accounts of several MPs, as well as Angela Merkel, were affected.
It has also been blamed for hacks of the last US election campaign, anti-doping agencies and other targets.
The sanctions come just days after the UK Government said the GRU carried out cyber attacks on officials and organisations linked to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in an effort to disrupt the event.
The GRU is said to have conducted cyber reconnaissance against organisers, logistics services and sponsors with the intent of compromising computer systems and sabotaging the running of the Games.
Mr Raab said: “The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Germany and our European partners to hold Russia to account for cyber attacks designed to undermine Western democracies.
“This criminal behaviour brings the Russian Government into further disrepute.”