The US Just Slapped Sanctions on Russia for Election Hacks

The government also released an intelligence report that connects pieces of code used in the hack with Russian spy agencies.

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Dec 29 2016, 9:35pm

Image via US-CERT

The Obama administration made good on its promise on Thursday to sanction Russia for cyberattacks that the CIA and FBI both claim were intended to sway the US election in favor of Donald Trump. As part of the action, Russian operatives will be expelled from the US, and two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland used for "intelligence-related purposes" will be closed.

On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI also released a report on the Russian hacks that refers to them with the agency codename "Grizzly Steppe," and provides procedural details, associated usernames, and pieces of code the government claims are associated with Russian spy agencies. According to the New York Times, a more detailed report on the findings will be released within the next three weeks, which would help answer criticisms that the US has not yet presented the public with any hard evidence of Russian involvement. 

The State Department has announced that 35 Russian diplomats working at the Russian embassy in Washington, DC, and the consulate in San Francisco will have 72 hours to leave the country for "acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status." Additionally, two men who appeared on the FBI's list of the five most wanted hackers in 2015—Evgeniy Bogachev and Alexsey Belan—were named in the Treasury's sanction report as cybercriminals facing expulsion.

Belan (left) and Bogachev (right) FBI wanted posters

"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 US interests in violation of established international norms of behavior," Obama said in a statement on Thursday.

President-elect Trump has not yet directly addressed Thursdays's announcement, but did say something about computers complicating our lives on Wednesday when reporters asked him about the impending sanctions. "I think we ought to get on with our lives," Trump said, adding that "the whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on."

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan issued a statement in support of the sanctions Thursday, but nonetheless castigated Obama. Ryan called the sanctions "overdue" and said they constitute "an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia."

Follow Mike Pearl on Twitter.

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