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US Escalates Tensions With Russia, Expels 35 Officials

Obama says Americans will 'continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicised'

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President Barack Obama has sanctioned Russia, expelled 35 Russian officials and shut down two Russian-owned compounds in the US over alleged Russian hacking during the presidential polls, a charge categorically rejected by Moscow which vowed "adequate reprisals".

"All Americans should be alarmed by Russia's actions," Obama said in a statement as he ordered a number of actions in response to the Russia's alleged aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations targeting the US election.

"These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm US interests in violation of established international norms of behaviour," he said yesterday.

The executive order issued by Obama provided additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine US election processes and institutions, or those of its allies or partners.

"Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU's cyber operations," he said.

"In addition, the Secretary of 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," Obama said.

"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 US and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia's global campaign of malicious cyber activities," he said.

Obama said these actions are not the sum total of US 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 publicised," he said.

"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 behaviour, and interfere with democratic governance," Obama said.

Commenting on the US sanctions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Washington of trying to destroy ties by making "unfounded" allegations of interference in the US election.

"We categorically reject the unfounded assertions and accusations made about Russia," Peskov was quoted as saying by the Ria-Novosti news agency.

The US wants to "definitively destroy US-Russia relations which have already reached a low," Peskov said, adding Russia will "react in an adequate manner based on the principles of reciprocity."

(PTI)


Tags assigned to this article:
vladimir putin barack obama russia diplomacy united states