President Barack Obama just took unprecedented measures to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, prompting vows from Russian authorities that Moscow will respond in kind.
Describing Russia’s involvement as “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” Obama sanctioned six Russian individuals and five Russian entities, as well as ordering dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country, CNN reported Thursday.
This is the first time the names of Russian officials involved in the hacking have become public on the sanctions list.
Obama said 35 Russian diplomats have been ordered to leave the country immediately and two Russian compounds are being closed under Thursday’s actions.
“Those individuals and their families have 72 hours to leave the United States,” President Obama said in a statement, according to CNN.
In the same statement, the White House declared that “Russia’s cyberactivities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in US democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the US government. These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
“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 US interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said.
Russia responded by saying the Kremlin will respond to any “hostile steps” that the US may take in response to allegations of hacking during the 2016 election, according to the official representative for the ministry.
President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday that Americans should “get on with our lives” when he was asked about the expected White House announcement to place sanctions on Russia.
“I think we ought to get on with our lives,” he told reporters Wednesday night at the Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida. “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on,” Trump said.
While Trump could reverse the sanctions by executive order, “It wouldn’t make a lot of sense,” a senior Obama administration official told reporters.
The President-elect’s statements also split with Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.
Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two of Russia’s fiercest critics in the US Senate, called for stronger sanctions against Russia.
“The retaliatory measures announced by the Obama administration today are long overdue. But ultimately, they are a small price for Russia to pay for its brazen attack on American democracy. We intend to lead the effort in the new Congress to impose stronger sanctions on Russia,” the two said in a joint statement.
James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, issued a statement on Thursday reiterating the agency’s confidence that the Russian government was involved in the US hacking.
“This activity by Russian intelligence services is part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the US Government and its citizens,” Clapper said.
“The US Government can confirm that the Russian government, including Russia’s civilian and military intelligence services, conducted many of the activities generally described by a number of these security companies,” the statement added.
The CIA concluded that the Russian government orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations of the Democratic Party to influence the 2016 election and help elect Donald Trump.