US expels 35 Russian diplomats
WASHINGTON, Dec 30, (APP/AFP) - The United States on Thursday fired back at Moscow over its meddling in the presidential election, announcing a series of tough sanctions against intelligence agencies, expulsions of agents and shutting down of Russian compounds on US soil.
Obama had all but accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering an audacious cyber hack that many Democrats believe damaged Hillary Clinton's chances in November's closely fought election with Republican foe Donald Trump.
The US intelligence community has concluded that a hack-and-release
of Democratic Party and Clinton staff emails was designed to put Trump -- a political neophyte who has praised Putin -- into the Oval Office.
The measures are certain to send tensions with Moscow soaring just three weeks before Trump succeeds Obama.
"I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government's aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election," Obama said.
"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."
Among the measures announced were sanctions against Russia's FSB and GRU intelligence agencies, the designation of 35 Russian operatives as "persona non grata" and the closure of two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland that the United States says are used "for intelligence-related purposes."