U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats including shutting down of two Russian compounds in the U.S. in a number of actions announced on Thursday.
Obama’s speech stated that the actions were “in response to Russia’s malicious cyber activity and harassment.”
“Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at U.S. 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 U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behaviour.
The U.S 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’ on 35 Russian intelligence operatives.
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.
This is to help network defenders in the U.S. and abroad to identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities,” Obama said.
According to him, all Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions.
Obama added that “in October, my Administration publicised our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
“These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year. Such activities have consequences,” Obama said.
He explained that he had issued an executive order that provided additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity aimed at interfering with or undermining America’s election processes and institutions, or those of its allies or partners.
“Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the Main Intelligence Directorate (Glavnoe Razedyvatelnoe Upravelenie or GRU) and the Federal Security Service (Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti or FSB), two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations. 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 U.S. president explained that “these actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities.”
“We will continue to take actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicised.
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.
To that end, my Administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections,” Obama said.