(CNN) President Barack Obama took unprecedented steps Thursday to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, prompting vows from Russian authorities that Moscow will respond in kind.
The administration described Russia’s involvement as “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” and sanctioned six Russian individuals and five Russian entities, as well as ordering dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country. This is the first time the names of Russian officials involved in the hacking have become public on the sanctions list.
Obama said 35 Russian diplomats have been ordered to leave the country and two Russian compounds are being closed under Thursday’s actions.
“Russia’s cyberactivities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in US democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the US government,” a White House statement said.
“These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
According to statements from the White House and the Treasury Department, the government has sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s operations; and two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.
Two of the individuals on the sanctions list, Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev and Alexey Belan, are on the FBI wanted list as well.
Obama also said in the statement announcing that the diplomats have been ordered to leave the country, that those individuals and their families were given 72 hours to leave the United States.
“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 the statement.
Russia swiftly responded to the actions Thursday. Russia will respond to any “hostile steps” that the US may take in response to allegations of hacking during the 2016 election, according to the official representative for the ministry.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said similar steps will be taken in response to the expulsions, though she did not immediately provide further details. Dmitri Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters there is “no alternative to reciprocal measures,” adding that Putin is “in no rush to make a decision.”
And Russia’s embassy in the UK tweeted that Obama’s actions were “Cold War deja vu” described the administration as “hapless.”