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Obama Hits Russia With New Sanctions

By VOA News December 29, 2016

The Obama administration has hit Russia with new sanctions in response to Moscow's alleged hacking and interference in the November U.S. presidential elections.

"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 the U.S. election," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "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 behavior."

The sanctions include the president's order for 35 Russian intelligence operatives to leave the United States within 72 hours, and penalties on Russia's two leading intelligence services.

The Obama administration would like the sanctions to be in place before the president leaves office January 20.

Russian response

The Russian Foreign Ministry is condemning the sanctions.

"To be honest, we are already tired of the lies about 'Russian hackers' which continue to emanate from the very top of the U.S. [government]," said a statement issued Wednesday by the ministry's spokesperson, Maria Zakharova.

"The Obama administration has launched this disinformation [campaign] half a year ago in an attempt to give a boost to its preferred candidate in the November presidential elections, and not having achieved the result it was seeking, it is looking for an excuse for its own failure, thus dealing a double blow to Russian-American relations," the statement added.

Even if new sanctions are successfully imposed, it remains unclear whether they would be maintained by the administration of President-elect Donald Trump after he takes office.

Trump team comments

Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer called for proof that Russia interfered in the election.

"A lot of folks on the left that continue to undermine the legitimacy of his [Trump's election] win; that's unfortunate," Spicer said Thursday. "If the U.S. has clear proof of anybody interfering in our elections, we should make that known."

Prominent Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham insists Russia did interfere in the recent U.S. presidential election, and said Moscow can expect hard-hitting sanctions.

He said Wednesday the U.S. Congress in 2017 will investigate Russia's involvement in the November 8 election.

"I expect there will be bipartisan sanctions coming that will hit Russia hard, particularly [President Vladimir] Putin as an individual," Graham said, without elaborating. "It is now time for Russia to understand enough is enough."



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