US President Obama on Thursday, accused Russia of hacking and interfering with the US presidential election on orders from President Vladimir Putin. Even though he had previously said, on several occasions, that he didn’t think the election was rigged in any way.
He ordered 35 Russian intelligence operatives to leave the country as part of sanctions ordered for what he said where the country’s attempts to ‘interfere with democratic governance’ and harassment of U.S. diplomatic officials in Russia.
In a statement he released while announcing the sanctions against Russia, he launched a scathing attack on Putin’s Kremlin. He all but named Putin in his statement as the brain behind the hacking. The said the hacking was ‘ordered at the highest level’. The 35 diplomats were given 72 hours to leave the US with their families. So they have till Sunday to leave.
Other sanctions include revealing in public exactly what technical information the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI hold on Russian hacking capabilities.
Obama also shut down two Russian compounds, one in New York and one in Maryland, which he said had been used for intelligence-related purposes.
And he introduced financial sanctions on the two Russian spy agencies, the GRU and the FSB, four named GRU officers, and three companies said to have provided ‘material support’ for the GRU’s hacking.
Russia responded to President Obama’s sanctions by reportedly closing the Anglo-American School of Moscow, a facility for the children of American, British, and Canadian diplomats.
Dmitry Peskov, a Putin spokesman, told reporters on a conference call that Moscow doubted the effectiveness of the measures, since Obama will leave office in just three weeks.
‘Such steps of the 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, deal a blow on the foreign policy plans of the incoming administration of the president-elect,’.
However, senior administration officials said that they expect the sanctions to stick after Donald Trump takes over.
The official said:
‘These are executive actions, so if a future president decided that he wanted to allow in a large tranche of intelligence agents, presumably a future president could invite that action. We think it would be inadvisable,’. ‘Hypothetically you could reverse those sanctions, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense.’ Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, said Obama’s measures were ‘appropriate and better late than never.’
Source: CNN, Daily Mail, NY Post