BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The White House announced Thursday that President Barack Obama has authorized several actions in response to what the administration calls “the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election in 2016.”
Among the actions laid out by the White House press room, Russian access will be denied starting Friday to two Russian government-owned compounds, one in Maryland and one in New York.
Some Russian agents will have to leave the U.S. in 72 hours and the two Russian compounds will also shut down.
The State Department says the compound in Maryland is a 45-acre property in Centreville called Pioneer Point, purchased by the Soviet government in 1972 as a vacation spot for diplomats.
The State Department has also given 35 Russian government officials from the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate in San Francisco and their families 72 hours to leave the United States.
The White House says “Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government.”
Obama has also amended Executive Order 13964, which was issued in April 2015 to create a new, targeted authority for the U.S. government to respond more effectively to the most significant of cyber threats.
The Executive Order now authorizes sanctions on those who tamper with, alter, or cause a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.
Using this new authority, Obama has sanctioned nine entities and individuals — two Russian intelligence services (the GRU and the FSB); four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.
“What the president wanted today is to make sure that russia knew we weren’t going to accept their interfering in our elections,” says Eric Schultz Deputy White House Press Secretary.
Russians will also be barred from getting into two of their U.S properties thought to have been used for spying.
U.S. intelligence agencies think Russian hacking may have helped Donald Trump win the election.
In a statement, the president-elect said it’s time for the country to move on.
But he also said he “Will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”
Despite these aggressive actions, the Obama Administration acknowledged once he’s President Donald Trump could reverse the changes.
“The next president wants to lift sanctions against Senior Russian Intelligence units to make it easier for them to interfere in our elections then he can go ahead and do so. We just don’t think that makes a lot of sense,” said Schultz.
Even though U.S. intelligence said Vladimir Putin himself approved these cyber attacks, Russia has denied it and threatened to retaliate.
Republican house speaker Paul Ryan said the sanctions are long overdue, but he also criticized president Obama for what he called eight years of failed policy.