2016 draws to an emphatic end with President Barack Obama stepping up possible war games with Russia before he leaves office in January 2017 by giving 35 Russian officials just 72 hours to leave the United States as well as closing two Kremlin operated compounds in the US.
The Obama administration got tough with Russia on Thursday, imposing sanctions against its intelligence apparatus and expelling 35 diplomats in retaliation for the alleged orchestration of hacks designed to interfere in the presidential election, a claim Russia strongly refuted.
American intelligence agencies have not always got it right with the now infamous weapons of mass destruction scandal in the early 2000’s when the white house backed by, then UK prime minister, Tony Blair, waged a media campaign which lead to war in Iraq, a huge red flag when it comes to analysing data given to us from so called intel departments.
Ahead of worldwide New Years Eve celebrations, Heavy handed Sanctions against the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, and the FSB, the spy agency that succeeded the KGB, and four high-ranking officers of the GRU were handed out in an act which is being billed as de-ja-vu of the cold war.
Further sanctions were placed against two suspected hackers, both wanted by the FBI in earlier cybercrime cases, and three companies that allegedly provided support to the GRU’s cyber operations.
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” President Obama said in a statement, blaming the “highest levels” of the Russian government.
Russia has consistently denied involvement in the attacks on Democratic Party organizations and leaders. After the announcement from Washington, President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary said Moscow would hit back but was in no rush.
“As we said before, we consider such a decision and such sanctions groundless and illegitimate from the point of view of the international law,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Interfax news agency”.
President elect Donald Trump spoke on Thursday evening, to confirm he will meet with U.S. intelligence officials.
“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in a statement on the sanctions. “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.” said Trump.