The Obama administration struck back at Russia on Thursday, December 29, 2016 imposing sanctions against its intelligence apparatus and expelling 35 diplomats in retaliation for the alleged orchestration of hacking attacks designed to interfere in the presidential election.
The sweeping actions, outlined by the White House three weeks before the new administration takes office, include:
- Shutting down two compounds, one in Maryland and one in New York, “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes.”
- Sanctions against the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, and the FSB, the spy agency that succeeded the KGB, and four high-ranking officers of the GRU.
- Sanctions against two suspected hackers, both wanted by the FBI in earlier cybercrime cases, and three companies that allegedly provided support to the GRU’s cyber operations.
- Releasing technical information about Russian cyber activity, “to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.”
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” President Obama said in a statement, blaming the “highest levels” of the Russian government.
Obama’s statement said the U.S. had declared 35 Russian “intelligence operatives” persona non grata. The State Department said the 35 are diplomats “who were acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic or consular status” and accused Russia of harassing U.S. diplomats overseas.
As of noon on Friday, the U.S. also will bar Russian access to two Moscow-owned “recreational compounds,” the White House said. A 45-acre property at Pioneer Point in Maryland was purchased by the Soviet government in 1972, and the 14-acre property on New York’s Long Island was purchased by the Soviet government in 1954.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the attacks on Democratic Party organizations and figures. After the announcement from Washington, President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary said Moscow would hit back but was in no rush.
“As we said before, we consider such a decision and such sanctions groundless and illegitimate from the point of view of international law,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Interfax news agency.
President Obama expels 35 ?? diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl ?? people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm. pic.twitter.com/mleqA16H8D
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 29, 2016
This article originally appeared on NBC News.