White House Announces Russia Sanctions for ‘Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities’

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WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 16: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House December 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. In what could be the last press conference of his presidency, afterwards Obama will be leaving for his annual family vacation in Hawaii. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama took unprecedented steps Thursday to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, prompting vows from Russian authorities that Moscow will respond in kind.

The administration described Russia’s involvement as “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” and sanctioned six Russian individuals and five Russian entities, as well as ordering dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country. This is the first time the names of Russian officials involved in the hacking have become public on the sanctions list.

Obama said 35 Russian diplomats have been ordered to leave the country and two Russian compounds are being closed under Thursday’s actions.

“Russia’s cyberactivities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in US democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the US government,” a White House statement said. “These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

According to statements from the White House and the Treasury Department, the government has sanctioned nine entities and individuals over their alleged interference in the election: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s operations. The US also sanctioned two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.

Two of the individuals on the sanctions list, Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev and Alexey Belan, are on the FBI wanted list as well.

Obama also said in the statement announcing that the diplomats have been ordered to leave the country, that those individuals and their families were given 72 hours to leave the United States.

“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 behavior,” Obama said in the statement.

Russia’s reaction

Russia swiftly responded to the actions Thursday. Russia will respond to any “hostile steps” that the US may take in response to allegations of hacking during the 2016 election, according to the official representative for the ministry.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said similar steps will be taken in response to the expulsions, though she did not immediately provide further details. Dmitri Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters there is “no alternative to reciprocal measures,” adding that Putin is “in no rush to make a decision.”

And Russia’s embassy in the UK tweeted that Obama’s actions were “Cold War deja vu” described the administration as “hapless.”

Congressional Republicans split with Trump

President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday that Americans should “get on with our lives” when he was asked about the expected White House announcement to place sanctions on Russia.

“I think we ought to get on with our lives,” he told reporters Wednesday night at the Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida. “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind, the security we need.”

A senior Obama administration official acknowledged to reporters Thursday that Trump could reverse the sanctions by executive order, but added, “I don’t think it’d make a lot of sense.”

The President-elect’s statements also split with Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, called the sanctions “overdue,” adding that it is an “appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia.”

“Russia does not share America’s interests,” he said in a statement Thursday. “In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them, sowing dangerous instability around the world. While today’s action by the administration is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia. And it serves as a prime example of this administration’s ineffective foreign policy that has left America weaker in the eyes of the world.”

Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two of Russia’s fiercest critics in the US Senate, called for stronger sanctions against Russia.

“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,” the two said in a joint statement.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement on Thursday reiterating the agency’s confidence that the Russian government was involved in the US hacking.

“This activity by Russian intelligence services is part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the US Government and its citizens,” the statement read. “The US Government can confirm that the Russian government, including Russia’s civilian and military intelligence services, conducted many of the activities generally described by a number of these security companies.”

Months of internal debate

The administration’s announcement comes after months of internal debate over how to respond to Russian hacking that US law enforcement and intelligence agencies have watched take place for over a year.

The US government announced in October that it was “confident” that the Russian government orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations of the Democratic Party to influence the 2016 election.

Those hacks resulted in the public release of thousands of stolen emails, many of which included damaging revelations about the Democratic Party and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the party’s nominee.

The hacking of DNC emails eventually led to the resignation of former chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz after emails showed her favoring Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary.

Earlier this month, the CIA announced to a group of senators that the hacks were aimed to help elect Trump as president.


  • Silverfish Imperetrix

    No hard evidence. Democrat-controlled government agencies. Compliant and collusive media. Now, I see “the Russians” hacked into the utility grid in Vermont, and once again the information is coming from “anonymous” government sources. This has the stench of Democrats all over it in their frenzy to undermine and de-legitimatize the fair and legal election of Donald Trump. If these seditious lies weren’t so dangerous to the country I’d think they were funny.

  • Jack Irvin

    So sad that I would trust russia more than our traitor president, I believe the DNC did the hacking and they are using russia for smoke and mirrors. I shamefully voted obama, but hillary is the worst thing that could have happened to our country

    • Givemeabreak

      You are right, it is “So sad”. Anyone that parrots Trump’s euphemisms can not be trusted. Then you end it with his pattented Hillary is “The worst”. There is a reason why they call it TV programming. You Sir are the prime example of the Zombie apocalypse. Just programmed people wandering around repeating words without independant thought. Now you have been programmed to trust Putin more than your commander and chief. It is fine if you don’t respect the man but the office is to be respected if you are a true blooded American. You have more love for Putin and sympathize with his plite. Then go show your support by pledging your allegiance to him. Putin has successfully turned Americans into Russian sympathizers. You people actually feel bad for him. Poor Putin. Lol. Turn off the TV programming you are giving him exactly what he wants.

  • Proud Dem

    Darn right the Russians did it! Of course Trump et al denies ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING that doesn’t support him or puts him in a bad light. Like it or not Trumpers, it is what it is. Quit crying conspiracy theory about it, doing so just shows how culpable you people are regarding the truth. Trump, Putin, the GOP, Fox News, etc has you folks believing everything backward! Even McCain, McConnell, Ryan know better now, along with 17 other U.S. agencies. But Trump knows better? Please, he’s the most inept person ever to run for office and of course he’s going to deny it. For the love of our country, get a clue and quit being so naïve, it plays right into the Russians hands. Clueless.

    • JohnKimball

      Please stop the “17 other US agencies” thing. Just because the politically-appointed DCI says something, it doesn’t mean every single agency like DEA intelligence and Coast Guard intelligence did an independent analysis and agree with it.


        You people are SOOOO out of touch with reality. Other Democrats who just read JOHNKIMBALL’s statement above, here’s a translation, if you don’t get what he’s saying. “Oh, please stop Democrat, there’s too much TRUTH to what you say. You know our minds can’t process or believe anything without first being approved by our Influencer-In-Chief Donald Trump. If we believe otherwise, the thought police at Fox News will find out and we will be cast aside like the GOP casts aside the 99%.”

    • WarningFakeNews

      Even the liberal Rolling Stone Magazine doesn’t buy the hacking storyline, perhaps they’re assessing the damage already done by Obama to the democrat party and saying, “enough already!” Of course, democrats still do control 5 states… maybe we need to keep working on them…MEANWHILE, Putin yawns in response to the toothless Obama administration yapping at his heels. How much smaller can Obama get in 22 days?

  • tomtom

    lock her up…build a wall…repeal obamacare…blah blah blah…and we fell for it…Russians won’t buzz our ships or they will be shot down…America first…and this is only his first day in office…what about the rest of the 364 in his first year…oh yeah…play golf with scumbag tiger woods…

  • JohnKimball

    And yet the evidence is still so flimsy that even Obama’s sycophants in the ‘news’ media have to continue referring to it as Russia’s ‘alleged’ involvement.

      • JohnKimball

        Not sure what that has to do with my comment. I’m saying that, even presented with this ‘proof’ which the Democrats in the media want so desperately want to be true, they still have to use the qualifying term ‘alleged’. It say a lot.

      • WarningFakeNews

        Yes, they are. All three “never trumpers”, and all 3 will do whatever they can to keep the swamp filled, they like it that way.

  • Donna

    Look what he did toIsrael,Obama turned his back on them. Now he is starting bull sh–with russia. We the people picked Trump as our president not the russians. So Obama just ruined our relationship with Israel and now Russia. He is a sore loser and a cry baby when he doesn’t get his way.

  • putin isn't a bad guy

    Hopefully Trump has called Putin and told him just let this stuff slide by and he will reverse it all 1/20/17. I don’t see what’s so bad about Russia anyways. They will be great allies against Isis. Russia is a pure country. They don’t have the intercity crime or immigration problems that we have. Russia is looking like a better place to live everyday. Russia is much more clean and pure compared to our cesspool we call the USA.

    • CeeMe

      If Trump could work with Russia and establish good relations, that would be great, but in the past, things haven’t always been cozy. Russia and all countries need to be handled carefully and always kept an eye on for America’s sake.

  • magicmikexxsm

    Big deal so obama kicked out a bunch of Russians, and now Putin will respond likewise by kicking out Americans…
    What Russia did was wrong, and nobody should be hacked, but if not for them we the American people would not have know how DIRTY the Democrat Party really is…..Sanders should be mad he could have won the presidency if not for the collusion between Hillary, and the DNC, and then you have stupid Hillary who sets up her own email servers to hide what she is doing from We The People….how Dumb……………….

    The Democrats can bi.t.c.h and moan all they want, but in the end it’s still their fault for being Sooooo dirty…..

  • i quit..

    If RUSSIA is being expelled for messing with election, whole Dem. party should be too,OR LOCKED UP. Are Dems. that dumb to think we will forget this in 4 or 8 years?


      Are you too dumb that we won’t forget what the Tea Party & GOP has done to our country? Never mind, I already know the answer. Most Trumpers can’t follow the news beyond the last Trump headline.

      • WarningFakeNews

        Along with the continued fake and extremely slanted coverage from the mainstream media, it seems that the liberal strategy is to insult or harass the people who voted for Trump. Yeah, that worked so well in this election, there’s no reason to change it. More power to you. Keep up the good work.

  • Here we go!

    Why stir the pot when your a lame duck? I thought you promised a peaceful transition! Wow just more lies to go with the rest you been dishing out the last 8 years! Do anything you can to screw up the reception of our newly elected just like when Bush came in to office and they had the towers blew up after hiding what they knew for 8 years!

    • Proud Dem

      So Obama is supposed to ignore the issue as to not upset a peaceful transition? You are out there! How about the peaceful transition the GOP and Governor of NC is giving the incoming Democratic Governor? Things are so bad in NC, that its democracy has been rated on par with CUBA. Get a clue – the true enemy is the GOP.

  • Get out already Barack Hussein Obama

    What the emails did is expose the dnc and what they are and that is a bunch of SNAKES!!!

  • i quit..

    Come on DEMS. To quote a waste of 8 years “cut it out” You did your best to shove HC up our ass. Maybe Russia-Maybe not,But emails were all true. GET OVER IT..

  • Mark

    Russia is not Wikileaks’ source. Podesta foolishly fell for a phishing email, so he is to blame. Also, read up on Seth Rich.

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    How this guy stayed in office 8 years is beyond me.

    He still has a decent approval rating!! Are people that stupid to think he’s doing a good job?

    He’s done nothing but weaken and divide this nation.

    He should have been removed by legal means long ago.

    • WarningFakeNews

      >> “He still has a decent approval rating!! Are people that stupid to think he’s doing a good job?”

      Now, Lloyd, you know the same people that were telling us Hillary was going to win in a landslide are the ones who concoct the president’s approval ratings. Trump’s, of course, will hover at about 15% and he will likely win a 1984 style landslide just the same. I just love how the mainstream media finally started calling it “fake news”, what a great idea!

    • Proud Dem

      What weakened our country was the obstruction Obama faced from McConnell, the Tea Party et al. They set out to destroy Obama from day one. Of course, that continues to this day with further obstruction of the NC Governorship, the refusal to appoint the Supreme Court justice, etc. The GOP puts party first and that’s about it.

  • WarningFakeNews

    This narrative began in the DNC as fake news after WikiLeaks started leaking emails which showed the DNC to be corrupt and acting illegally even against their own people. “Narrative” is journalism speak for “lies”. The Obama administration and the DNC wanted us to believe that Hillary’s illegally deleted emails from her illegal home brewed, easily hacked server weren’t important. What started out as fake news, remains so, and the chorus of the corrupt Obama administration, Team Hillary, the media (a branch of the DNC), the DNC, and the leaking partisans in the CIA and FBI, along with the never Trumpers McCain, Graham, and Ryan, along with anyone else opposed to the swamp of DC being drained won’t change the election outcome. 23 days, let the draining begin and watch as the elites cry loudly and often.

  • john williams

    Because the US or our CIA never influenced an election or a regime change anywhere else in the world, anytime in history right????? this is nothing more than lip service to George Soros!

    • You say

      So you’re saying it is okay for Russia to have seriously influenced our election because we did it to foreign governments??
      Are you a Russian national?

    • Givemeabreak

      Truth? Lol. You people are completely brainwashed, it’s astonishing There was no truth on either side Hillary and Trump are both liars. The Democratic and Republican parties only have their own agendas not the people’s and now there is all this love for the Russia and Putin? You really can’t make this stuff up. NEPA hearts Putin.

  • john williams

    Yeah Barak, you got a handle on it. Draw a line in the sand like you did in Syria…………..lets see how that works out.

  • Supporter of America

    He’s been in office eight years and he finally decides to show some mettle!!! He’ll probably back down when it comes time to actually put the diplomats and their families on a plane; just like he always does. I never would vote for Hillary, but one thing she has in her pantsuit is a bigger pair than Obama.

  • speckled trout

    Hang in there, Jan. 20th is coming. This fool cant leave fast enough. He is really screwing things up for us.

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