By Dave Boyer - The Washington Times - Updated: 2:22 p.m. on Thursday, December 29, 2016
The Obama administration hit Russia and 35 individuals personally with expanded sanctions Thursday for alleged cyberattacks aimed at disrupting the U.S. presidential election, a move that highlighted another rift between President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump, who urged the administration to “move on” from the episode.
The series of retaliatory measures against Moscow include expanded sanctions and diplomatic measures, in what the administration calls a proportional response to a cyber hacking operation that U.S. officials said was an effort to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “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.”
The president’s executive order sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; and four individual officers of the GRU. In addition, the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals 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, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives.
Russia said it will respond to any “hostile steps” that the U.S. takes in response to allegations of hacking during the 2016 election, according to the official representative for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said in a statement on the ministry’s website, “If Washington really does take new hostile steps, they will be answered … any action against Russian diplomatic missions in the U.S. will immediately bounce back on U.S. diplomats in Russia.”