Obama Orders Sanctions Against Russia, Expels Operatives, in Response to Hacking
The Obama administration announced sanctions Thursday against Russia’s intelligence services, while ejecting dozens of intelligence operatives from the U.S., as part of a response to what it says are efforts by Moscow to influence the 2016 election.
Using an executive order, President Obama sanctioned the GRU and the FSB -- two of Russia's intelligence services as well as other entities and individuals associated with the GRU. The cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate the hack of its emails earlier this year concluded the hacking came from the Fancy Bear group, believed to be affiliated with the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency.
In addition to the sanctions, the State Department has declared 35 Russian intelligence operatives "persona non grata" in the U.S., giving them 72 hours to leave, and is shutting down two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York.
The Maryland property is a 45-acre property at Pioneer Point, and was purchased by the Soviet government in 1972.
The New York property is on Long Island and is 14 acres and was purchased by the Soviet government in 1954.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said in response to the announcement that Moscow will consider retaliatory measures.
"We think that such steps by a U.S. administration that has three weeks left to work are aimed at two things: to further harm Russian-American ties, which are at a low point as it is, as well as, obviously, to deal a blow to the foreign policy plans of the incoming administration of the president-elect," Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.
The Russian Embassy in the UK took a different approach, tweeting out a picture of a lame duck and blasting what it called "Cold War deja vu."
The Treasury Secretary meanwhile has named two individuals -- Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev and Aleksey Alekseyevich Belan -- it says were involved in "malicious cyber-enabled activities."
"These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior," Obama said in a statement.
Obama also announced that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI will release declassified information on Russian cyberactivity to help "identify, detect and Russia's global campaign of malicious cyber activities."
Obama also said that the administration will be providing a report to Congress "in the coming days" about Russian attempts to interfere in the election, as well as previous election cycles.
The president also hinted that his administration intends to do more to hold Russia accountable.
"These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia's aggressive activities," Obama said. "We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized."
U.S. intelligence services have concluded that the Russians interfered in the election to try and help President-elect Donald Trump win. Trump has dismissed the conclusions.
However, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. welcomed the move in a statement.
"Russia does not share America's interests. In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them, sowing dangerous instability around the world. While today's action by the administration is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia," Ryan said.
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY., also praised the move in a statement late Thursday.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-TX., called Obama's actions "long overdue," while House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said he's been "urging" Obama for years to take action and that this "indecision and delay" explains why "American's influence has collapsed."