Obama sanctions Russia, expels 35 diplomats

posted at 7:31 pm on December 29, 2016 by John Sexton

President Obama issued a new set of sanctions Thursday against Russian intelligence agents and companies associated with them. He also expelled 35 Russian diplomats. The President’s statement was published by the White House:

I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners.  Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals:  the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.  In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.  The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives…

These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized.

In coordination with the White House move the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI also released a joint report expanding upon a pre-election statement that Russia was responsible for the hacking of several political groups including the DNC and DCCC. A press release accompanying the report reads in part:

This activity by Russian intelligence services is part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. Government and its citizens. These cyber operations have included spearphishing, campaigns targeting government organizations, critical infrastructure, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations; theft of information from these organizations; and the recent public release of some of this stolen information.

House Speaker Paul Ryan released a brief statement saying, “While today’s action by the administration is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia.

Meanwhile the response from the Russian Embassy mocked Obama as a lame duck:

https://twitter.com/RussianEmbassy/status/814564127230271489

The reference to “Cold War deja vu” could be a subtle reference to this exchange during the 2012 election:


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