US Imposes New Sanctions on Russia, Expels Russian Diplomats

Obama administration announced a new series of sanctions against Russia over the alleged Russian hacking of the US election

President Obama, whose mandate ends on January 20 next year, has announced a new series of sanctions as ‘punishments’ for the alleged hacking of the US Presidential election.

According to latest reports, the Obama administration will expel 35 Russian diplomats, giving them 72 hours to leave the US.

Two compounds in New York and Maryland that were used by Russian personnel will be closed. Obama has also issued executive orders sanctioning two Russian intelligence agencies, the GRU and the FSB.

Obama said:

All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions. Such activities have consequences.

He also stated that:

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.

These actions are not the sum total of our 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.

However, the Obama administration has still not provided any sort of evidence for the allegations that Russian hackers were involved in influencing US election process. Earlier, the White House has promised to release a report ‘detailing Russian cyber interference in US elections

This is by far the stronger action Obama has taken against Russia. It will also mark another serious deterioration in US-Russia relations, already on their lowest since the Cold War.

The Obama administration has previously linked Russia with the hacking of DNC, and the theft of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

President-elect, Donald Trump is suspected by the sitting administration of having links with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The new set of measures against Russia could significantly undermine the position of the incoming Trump administration.

Trump could roll back the measures once he takes office on January 20, but a senior US official has said that would be inadvisable.

Russia Promises Counter-measures

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman of the Russian President said that ‘Moscow regretted the sanctions’ and is considering retaliatory steps.

Peskov said that the measures signalled Mr Obama’s “unpredictable” and “aggressive foreign policy.

Such steps of the US administration that has three weeks left to work are aimed at two things: to further harm Russian-American ties, which are at a low point as it is, as well as, obviously, deal a blow on the foreign policy plans of the incoming administration of the President-elect.

Peskov said:

He also added that Russia will need time to study the impact of the new sanctions and work out possible retaliatory measures.

The head of Council for Foreign and Defense Policies, Fyodor Lukyanov, called the new sanctions imposed by the Obama administration “a Cold War-like diplomatic war.”

He said on Russia 24 television that because of the new sanctions, the Trump administration “will have to start off from an even lower point than it was.” He also added that he thinks the new administration will “try to soften the blow” and distance itself from Obama’s policies.

Source: ABC News

Image: Reuters