The European Union has announced that it is imposing sanctions against Russian and Chinese individuals and entities involved in cyber-attacks or attempted cyber-attacks against institutions and companies in the EU.
They include a Russian intelligence organization and a Chinese firm, as well as four Russians and two Chinese.
The sanctions announced on Thursday involve travel bans and the freezing of assets in the EU.
The EU says the four Russians belong to the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, or GRU. It says that they attempted to gain access in 2018 to the Wi-Fi network of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW.
The OPCW was investigating if chemical weapons had been used in Syria.
The EU says the two Chinese were involved in cyber-attacks targeting multinational companies, including ones located in the member nations. It says they gained access to commercially sensitive data.
This is the first time the EU has imposed sanctions for cyber-attacks.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, says the decision shows the EU’s determination to maintain security and protect free and democratic societies.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen brought up the issue of Chinese cyber-attacks on hospitals in the eurozone after an online conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping in June.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has accused Russia of being involved in a cyber-attack against the German parliament.