THE UNITED STATES EXPELLED 35 RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS AND CLOSED TWO RUSSIAN COMPOUNDS IN NEW YORK AND MARYLAND IN RESPONSE TO A CAMPAIGN OF HARASSMENT AGAINST AMERICAN DIPLOMATS IN MOSCOW, A SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL SAID ON THURSDAY.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Despite presenting no proof of any kind of hacking, Obama minutes ago ordered 35 Russian diplomats to be expelled and closed two Russian compounds. Yesterday he order through John Kerry for Jerusalem to be divided and give to the Muslims. He is determined to create as much trouble and do as much damage as he can in the 3 weeks he has left as president, to make it as hard as possible for the incoming Donald Trump administration.
The move against the diplomats from the Russian embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco is part of a series of actions announced on Thursday to punish Russia for a campaign of intimidation of American diplomats in Moscow and interference in the U.S. election.The Obama administration was also announcing on Thursday a series of retaliatory measures against Russia for hacking into U.S. political institutions and individuals and leaking information to help President-elect Donald Trump and other Republican candidates, two U.S. officials said.
In a statement issued two weeks after the president said he would respond to cyber-attacks by Moscow “at a time and place of our choosing”, Obama said Americans should “be alarmed by Russia’s actions” and pledged further action.
“I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners,” Obama said in the statement, released while he was vacationing with his family in Hawaii.
“Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.
Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has called for better relations with Russia. It was not clear if he will be able to immediately overturn the measures announced on Thursday.
The Russian diplomats would have 72 hours to leave the United States, the official said. Access to the two compounds, which are used by Russian officials for intelligence gathering, will be denied to all Russian officials as of noon on Friday, the senior U.S. official added.
“These actions were taken to respond to Russian harassment of American diplomats and actions by the diplomats that we have assessed to be not consistent with diplomatic practice,” the official said.
The State Department has long complained that Russian security agents and traffic police have harassed U.S. diplomats in Moscow, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has raised the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
“By imposing costs on the Russian diplomats in the United States, by denying them access to the two facilities, we hope the Russian government reevaluates its own actions, which have impeded the ability and safety of our own embassy personnel in Russia,” the official said. source
In Moscow, a Putin spokesman said Russia regretted the new sanctions and would consider retaliatory measures.
Diplomatic expulsions are normally met with exactly reciprocal action. In this case, however, Moscow may pause for thought. With Trump, who has spoken positively about Russia and Putin, just three weeks away from the White House, Russia may feel it is inadvisable to kick out 35 US diplomats.