This afternoon the White House announced anticipated punishment against Russia for its role in cyber-hacking during the U.S. election process. In a statement, President Obama pointed to “aggressive harassment” by the Russians:
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions. In October, my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process. These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year. Such activities have consequences. Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response.”
The retaliatory actions include a number of sanctions against Russian individuals who work within the Putin government, as well as against certain Russian entities.
Additionally, Obama and the State Department have called for the ouster of approximately 35 Russian diplomats living in the United States—in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Now deemed “persona non grata,” those individuals and their families have 72 hours to leave the U.S.
Two Russian compounds, one in Maryland, another in New York, will be shut down as well; both are believed to be used for “intelligence-related purposes.” Added Obama:
“Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity, to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.”
A statement from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan called the White House’s actions today “overdue,” but an appropriate way to end the Obama administration’s “failed policy” with Russia. Said the speaker:
“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. And it serves as a prime example of this administration’s ineffective foreign policy that has left America weaker in the eyes of the world.”
It is expected Russia will answer today’s actions by ousting American diplomats from Russia in return.Vladimir Putin shares a frosty stare with Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders Summit on September 5, 2016. Image Credit: Alexei Druzhinin//AFP/Getty Images
Obama, however, indicated today’s sanctions, punishments, and ousters might not signal the end of America’s retaliation
“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 addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance. To that end, my Administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections.”
The report mentioned by the president is in response to what is reported to be a wide-ranging cyber attack against the DNC, Hillary Clinton operative John Podesta’s emails, and other electronic meddling.
President-elect Donald Trump has yet to issue a statement on the new sanctions; however, yesterday he indicated he did not appear to be gravely concerned about Russia’s behavior:
“I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”
Trump vowed to meet with members of Congress to further investigate ways in which America should shore up its cyber-security measures.