Thursday, December 29, 2016

Obama Sanctions Russia Over Unproven Hacking Claims, Putin Will Determine Adequate Response To U.S. Sanctions

Obama Sanctions Russia over Unproven Hacking Claims

President Obama issued an executive order on Thursday sanctioning Russian intelligence officials, individuals, and organizations based on as-yet unproven accusations that Russia interfered in the 2016 election by hacking the emails of Democratic Party officials.

This action comes as the Obama administration is heightening tensions between the United States and Russia on several fronts.
The new executive order signed by Obama offers no new proof that the Russian government was involved in what it calls “tampering with, altering, or causing a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.”
In place of proof of these serious claims, the Obama White House said it will “be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections.”
After former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffered a stunning loss in November’s election, many high-profile Democrats accused Russian “hacking” of interfering with the election. President Obama has explicitly stated there is no evidence of “vote tampering.”That leaves one possible avenue by which Russian “hackers” could have influenced the vote: the Wikileaks release of email archives from several Democratic National Committee (DNC) employees and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.

The House Intelligence committee has still not been briefed on the specific proof, if any, that links Russian espionage agencies to the hacking of Democrat’s official’s emails, inside sources with knowledge of the matter told Breitbart News last week. The committee was told they had to wait for the report to Congress to be issued to get the briefing, the source said.

Reuters reported on December 16th that Representative Ron Johnson said, “It is disappointing that the CIA would provide information on this issue to the Washington Post and NBC but will not provide information to elected members of Congress” after Johnson was denied a briefing by the CIA.

Ruthless US sanctions have banned the use of a highly-private and strategically placed Russian “spy compound,” a vacation retreat center in Maryland where families grilled burgers, hot dogs, and maybe even nuclear-Russian shish kebobs.

On Thursday unmarked SUVs surrounded a Maryland property belonging to the Russian Embassy to the United States to send a clear signal: Russians are not welcome any more.The Obama administration designated the vacation retreat as a compound used for ‘spying purposes’ without expanding on what kind of spying was going on in the remote location. 

Unsurprisingly, it is extremely difficult to justify intelligence gathering here, as no military base or government building can be found anywhere nearby and everyone in the neighborhood has known for decades that the spot is a retreat for Russian diplomats and their families. If you had been a spy, coming here would be the best way to blow your cover. Nevertheless, this quaint family vacation spot is what the US has targeted in their latest round of sanctions.

Google maps gives a detailed look at this 'spy nest,' revealing several wooden summer houses and a 1920s Georgian-style abode to be the home of some of Russia’s most lethal weapons, including lush magnolia, cypress, and boxwood trees. With great views and perfectly-charbroiled steaks on the way, maybe the Obamas want to spend some vacation time there themselves.

The Washington Life magazine previously ran a feature on the covert operations center, revealing that the "dacha" (that’s Russian for summer house), is a cherished getaway. "It’s a Russian tradition," Yuri Ushakov, the Russian Ambassador at the time, told the magazine. "You will find Moscow empty on Saturdays and Sundays, even in winter. A dacha is a good place to spend time outdoors with family and friends."

​​However, the Obama administration felt that enough is enough, and it was time to put an end to these egregious activities. Russian diplomats, after all, should not have too much fun while in the US, as, otherwise, they might like it here and become too friendly with Americans, something that the outgoing administration has worked hard to prevent at all costs — even if it seriously complicates the lives of US diplomats in Russia. After all, there’s no doubt that Moscow will take similar measures toward Americans, as the diplomatic tradition requires. But who cares, if you can have another great headline, and show how tough you are on the Russians. And their barbeque. 

Kremlin announced that Putin will determine adequate response to US sanctions.

Russia will undoubtedly provide an adequate response to new US sanctions and it will make Washington officials 'feel uncomfortable', Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

"We will certainly response adequately…and it will be determined in line with decisions adopted by Russian President [Vladimir Putin], Peskov told reporters commenting on the US move, which he described as "unpredictable and aggressive."

"There is no doubt that this adequate and mirror response will make the US side feel very uncomfortable as well," Peskov stressed.

The Kremlin spokesman added that Moscow regrets the US move to impose new anti-Russian sanction as it continues to destroy bilateral relations.
He noted that the sanctions were unpredictable and seemed aggressive, adding that Russia still hopes to build normal relation with the US government.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the ministry would make an official statement on Friday regarding the new sanctions.

"Tomorrow there will be official statements, countermeasures," Zakharova wrote on Facebook, adding that the move has complicated matters for the new US administration.

"In the interest of our country and its great people," Trump promised to meet with members of the FBI, DHS, and other intelligence agencies "to be updated on the facts of this situation," according to a statement from the transition team.

The US slapped sanctions on Russia Thursday as part of retaliation for accusations that Russian intelligence services interfered with US elections. 35 Russian diplomats and their families were ordered to exit the country within 72 hours. 
The US must "move on to bigger and better things," Trump's team said, but in order to uphold the American people's interests he will consult with the intelligence community about their recent findings.

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