Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats as a response to what he says was Russian interference in the November 8 presidential elections.
The United States has announced harsh sanctions against Russia, whose government accuses it of intervening in the presidential elections, orchestrating computer attacks that damaged the campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton and, according to the CIA, sought to favor Donald Trump.
The measures illustrate the pronounced differences and changes that are taking place in the North American country. While the president-elect has shown an unusual proximity to Russia, the outgoing, Barack Obama, leaves in the epilogue of his sad administration, clear signs of disatisfaction against his enemy.
The White House has sanctioned five entities and six individuals for what they call “cyber-espionage”, revealed their identities and also ordered the departure from the country – within 72 hours – of 35 Russian intelligence agents and their families who until now lived and worked in Washington and Los Angeles.
Obama has also decided to immediately close two operations owned by the Russian Government in New York and Maryland. Access to these facilities will be banned on Friday at noon ET.
In his statement, Obama denounced “unacceptable harassment” of US officials in Moscow by Russian police and intelligence services and a series of cyber attacks by which, he says, “all Americans should be alarmed.”
The president articulated the sanctions through an executive order approved in April 2015 that empowered the president to respond to actions of computer espionage that put at risk critical infrastructures or critical information for economic purposes, among others.
He has now incorporated an amendment by which he can also apply the aforementioned order 13964 when alleged hackers seek to “interfere with or undermine institutions or electoral processes”.
The stolen emails from the Clinton team, made public by Wikileaks, revealed that the leadership of the Democratic party favored Clinton against her rival, Bernie Sanders, during the primaries, which meant the resignation of the then head of the DNC.
Other messages, of lesser repercussion, highlighted some internal contradictions or the proximity of the candidate with Wall Street, one of her weaknesses when making the case to become the next president of the United States.
Moscow, which rejects the accusations, warned through a spokesman that the Government will proceed to “appropriate retaliation” to the sanctions.
Relations between the two countries are in one of the most tense phases of the post-Cold War period due to alleged hackings and confrontation in the Syrian-Ukrainian conflict.
In particular, sanctions for cyber attacks affect two Russian intelligence agencies:
- the Main Directorate of Intelligence
- the Federal Security Service
The list also inclides three companies:
- the Special Technology Center
- the Professional Association of Data Processing Design
According to the US, the PADPD provided material support for cyberattacks.
In parallel, the Treasury Department has also pointed to two Russian individuals for piracy of financial information for economic purposes, with a sanction that freezes their assets in the United States and prevents them from doing business in the country.
The White House has also issued a report from the FBI and the Department of Interior with the technical data of the alleged cyber attacks that it attributes to Russia.
In the morning, administration sources quoted by Reuters on condition of anonymity said they wanted to avoid an escalation of cyber attacks between the two countries and therefore ruled out measures such as theft of Internet communications or any other measure that exceeded the hacking allegedly committed by the Putin government.
However, President Obama warns that actions announced this Thursday are not all the measures that the United States will take againts Russia. Obama said he will continue to take action “at the time and place” of his choosing, and that some of the measures “will not be publicized.”
What is well-known is that Obama does not have much time left to try to punish Russia for the alleged hacking. There are only 22 days left in his administration. The question that many poeple ask is whether the next president, Donald Trump, will try to overturn the sanctions despite the pressure from RINO’s who are supportive of punishing Russia. One of them is the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
The United States began to point to Russia as responsible for the alleged hacking in early October through a statement from the National Intelligence Agency, which includes the 17 US intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security.
The accussation was made publi a month before the election and Obama strangely declined to talk about it or any measures he was determined to take as a response to the alleged attacks, but this month the CIA accused Russia not only of being behind the cyber attacks, but of having carried it out with the aim of helping Donald Trump win the election.
Since elected, Trump has questioned those conclusions and has been opposed to sanctions. At the time, when the first emails of the Clinton campaign were leaked, the then Republican candidate stunned much of the country by jokingly encouraging Russia to spy on the Democratic candidate.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the transition team insisted on a conference call that the government, if any, should make public the evidence if someone has interfered in the elections. “We should get on with our lives,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.
This episode and the disagreements over the Israeli conflict – following the latest vote in the UN – have broken the peaceful climate in which the transfer of powers between Obama and Trump was taking place.
While Trump continues to keep and bring jobs to the United States, the Obama administration seems desperate to screw up the transition and to leave Trump with as many diplomatic, commercial and financial problems as they can possibly arrange before Obama leaves office on January 20.
It is worth remembering that even Birtish diplomats have said that the DNC leak – no hacking took place – came from US government officials, not from Russia. If this were true, it means that the Obama administration sought to highten tensions with Russia by accussing the Putin government of interfering with the elections in an effort to, among other things, throw dirt on the incoming Trump administration.
“The transition is not going smoothly,” said Trump after learning that the Obama White House had called on their representatives to abstain at the United Nations and that Obama had said in a podcast interview that he could have defeated Trump had he ran for office in 2016.