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Cold War 2.0: Pres. Obama ends 2nd term by slapping Putin with sanctions over 2016 election meddling

December 30, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Cold War 2.0: Pres. Obama ends 2nd term by slapping Putin with sanctions over 2016 election meddling

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The Obama administration declared new sanctions against Russia, after the country meddled in the 2016 election, kicking out many Russian diplomats and imposing sanctions on a handful of Russian intelligence officials that work for President Putin.

“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 the election.

These actions follow repeated 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 behavior,” the president announced in a statement on Thursday.

The sanctions include the removal of 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S., closing down two Russian-owned facilities in New York and Maryland that the administration said have been utilized for intelligence operations, and economic measures targeting four top intelligence officials close to Vladimir Putin.

President Obama’s statement about sanctions against Russia was  his most comprehensive action against the Kremlin during his two terms in office

According to Fox News, penalties target two Russian intelligence services and three organizations “that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.”

Although Obama’s statement doesn’t mention it, the measures also likely involve clandestine cyber-operations against Russia, The Washington Post reported.

The big issue is whether President-elect Donald Trump will keep the sanctions in spite of his continued refusal to acknowledge the widespread accord in the intelligence community that Russia was behind the hacks of leading politicians including the Democratic National Committee chair and a top staffer for Hillary Clinton.

The emails, released via Wikileaks throughout the course of the campaign, damaged Clinton’s campaign and helped foster support for Trump.

Frosty relationship: During Obama’s two terms, Russian relations has worsened

“I think we ought to get on with our lives,” Trump responded after he was asked about potential sanctions on Wednesday. “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of the computer has made it where nobody knows what’s going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind of security we need.”

Senior officials with the Obama administration acknowledged to CNN that Trump could undo the executive orders when he is inaugurated in three weeks — but noted that it would be politically challenging to do so.

“I don’t think it would make much sense to invite back in Russian intelligence agents,” one official said. “Hypothetically you could reverse these sanctions but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense.”

Democrats were keen to encourage Trump to listen to intelligence officials and adhere to the sanctions — while some top Republicans also provided support.

Trump will assume office amid the worst relations with Russia since the 1980s and his defeated rival Hillary Clinton claiming Putin  personally targeted her to hand the election to the Republican

“I hope the incoming Trump administration, which has been far too close to Russia throughout… won’t think for one second about weakening these sanctions or our existing regime,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “Both parties ought to be united in standing up to Russian interference in our elections, to their cyber attacks, their illegal annexation of Crimea and other extra-legal interventions.”

Additionally, Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, offered support for the moves, even though he criticized Obama for how he managed Russia during his time in office.

“Russia does not share America’s interests. In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them… While today’s action is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia. And it serves as a prime example of this administration’s weak foreign policy that has left America weaker in the eyes of the world,” he indicated in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin fired back in the tit-for-tat by shutting down an American school and embassy vacation home

Putin fired back against the decision, closing the Anglo-American School of Moscow, for the children of American, British, and Canadian diplomats. Also, the embassy vacation home in Moscow was closed in response to President Obama’s unprecedented action.

The Russian President went on to ridicule the Obama administration, referring to the sanctions as “futile and counterproductive.”

“I only re-confirm that the sanction hysteria demonstrates the complete lack of orientation of the outgoing U.S. administration,” Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian foreign ministry commissioner on human rights, said.

Russia’s embassy in the United Kingdom mocked Obama from its official Twitter, featuring a picture of a “lame duck” that said both America and Russia “will be glad to see the last of this hapless” administration.

The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and Director of National Intelligence released a joint statement that stated that the “activity by Russian intelligence services is part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. Government and its citizens.”

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