The administration described Russia’s involvement as “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” and sanctioned four Russian individuals and five Russian entities for what it said was election interference. The administration also ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country and two Russian compounds are being closed.
This is the first time the names of Russian officials involved in the hacking have become public on the sanctions list.
“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, which are two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s operations.
The US also separately sanctioned two Russian individuals, Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev
and Alexey Belan
, for using cyber-enabled means to allegedly cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information. They’ve long been sought by the FBI.
Obama also said in the statement announcing that the diplomats have been ordered to leave the country and 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 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.”
Russia’s first visible action came later Thursday, when Russian authorities ordered the closure of the Anglo-American School of Moscow, a US official briefed on the matter said. The order from the Russian government closes the school, which serves children of US, British and Canadian embassy personnel, to US and foreign nationals.
The order also closes access to the US embassy vacation house in Serebryany Bor, near Moscow.
Soon after the administration’s announcement, Russia’s embassy in the UK tweeted
that Obama’s actions were “Cold War deja vu” and described the administration as “hapless.”