The Obama administration on Thursday announced its retaliation for Russia’s alleged hacking this year, leveling sanctions against top Russian intelligence services and giving 35 Russian diplomats in the United States three days to leave the country. President Obama also said his government would close two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York, and issue a report to Congress on Russian hacking in the days to come. “All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” Obama said in a statement.
For its part, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in London responded thusly:
This followed a threatening tweet from from the Russian Embassy in the United States earlier in the day:
Politically, Obama’s action puts pressure on President-elect Donald Trump—whose fondness for Russian President Vladamir Putin is well known—to condemn the alleged hacking. (Trump has thus far rejected the conclusion of intelligence agencies that Russia is at fault.)
Asked on Wednesday about the potential of sanctions against Russia, Trump told reporters, “I think we ought to get on with our lives,” even as he conceded, “I’m not sure we have the kind, the security we need.”
Obama’s move could also put Trump at odds with congressional Republicans, many of whom are eager to investigate the Russian hacking issue. Following the administration’s announcement on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement suggesting he supports the move. “While today’s action by the administration is overdue,” he said, “it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia.”
Update: Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have issued a joint statement: “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.”