In a sweeping response to election hacking and other meddlesome behavior, President Barack Obama on Thursday sanctioned Russian intelligence services and their top officials, kicked out 35 Russian officials and closed down two Russian-owned compounds in the U.S. It was the strongest action the Obama administration has taken to date to retaliate for a cyberattack.
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” Obama said. He added: “Such activities have consequences.”
In a bid to expose Moscow’s cyber aggression, the U.S. also released a detailed report about Russia’s hacking infrastructure that it said was designed to help computer specialists prevent more hacking. And Obama said more action was coming.
“These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities,” Obama said in a statement released while he was vacationing in Hawaii. The U.S. has previously left open the possibility it could mount a retaliatory strike.
The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said the new sanctions were a sign of Obama’s “unpredictable and, if I may say, aggressive foreign policy” and were aimed at undermining President-elect Donald Trump.
“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.