Obama Authorizes Sanctions On Russia In Response To Cyber Attacks, Harassment Of U.S. Officials

U.S. President Barack Obama authorized sanctions against Russia on Thursday in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials in Moscow by Russian security services and police and cyber operations aimed at interfering with the U.S. election in 2016.

According to the White House statement, “Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government.”

Obama said that his administration publicized an assessment in October that highlights how Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process and the data theft could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security released a joint analysis report on Thursday, outlining technical information about the pathways that were used by the Russian civilian and military intelligence Services (RIS) to compromise and exploit networks associated with the U.S. election besides U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities.

Obama said in a statement that the new actions he’s taking includes sanctioning nine entities and individuals, including the GRU (Russia’s Main Intelligence Agency) and the FSB (Federal Security Service), two Russian intelligence services, four individual officers of the GRU, Russia’s Main Intelligence Agency and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.

Two Russian individuals, Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev and Alexey Belan, are now facing sanctions 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 where Russian personnel use the properties for intelligence related purposes.

Obama decided to expel 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the U.S. who were Russian diplomats.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security will release declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity to help detect and prevent Russia’s malicious international cyber activities.

Obama explained that there could be covert actions taken in response to Russia’s meddling.

“We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized” Obama said.

According to Russian TASS, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia will give an “adequate response” to the new sanctions by the U.S.

“With regard to the transitional period now in Washington we still expect that we would be able to deal with the fallout from such clumsy moves, such clumsy steps, from behaving like a bull in a china shop and that sooner or later, through joint steps, we will take the path of normalizing our bilateral relations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a joint statement yesterday on the Obama Administration’s announcement of new sanctions against Russia related to its cyberattacks on the 2016 election:

“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.”

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John Schweitzer




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