Here’s another reminder we’re all still figuring out exactly how to responsibly use the internet. This was the tweet from an official Russian diplomatic account in response to U.S. sanctions against Russia over cyber attack claims.
President Obama expels 35 🇷🇺 diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl 🇺🇸 people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm. pic.twitter.com/mleqA16H8D
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 29, 2016
The tweet – a jab at the president being a “lame duck” – came from the UK’s Russian Embassy on Thursday afternoon. It was sent out shortly after the White House and other federal agencies took a number of steps to retaliate against Russia over interference in the U.S. elections process.
Back up: What is this all about?
All of this goes back to the election, and the CIA and FBI’s belief that Russia interfered in the process to try to get Donald Trump elected, as the Washington Post reported, including hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s emails. (The president-elect has generally dismissed those claims as Democrats being sore losers, though his apparent ties to Vladimir Putin have raised a lot of eyebrows.)
The United States took official steps Thursday to respond to those interference findings. Included in those steps:
- 35 Russian intelligence operatives in the U.S. are being kicked out, declared “persona non grata” by the White House.
- Two Russian individuals are being sanctioned by the U.S. for what the Treasury Department says was “malicious cyber-enabled activities.”
- Russians will be denied entry to two recreational compounds in the U.S. that are owned by Russia, the State Department says.
- And nine more sanctions of entities and individuals the White House says were involved.
The New York Times called all the measures together “the strongest American response ever taken to a state-sponsored cyberattack aimed at the United States.”
The Department of Homeland Security says the activity has been directed by Russian intelligence, which has been targeting America for a decade now.
“These cyber operations have included spearphishing, campaigns targeting government organizations, critical infrastructure, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations; theft of information from these organizations; and the recent public release of some of this stolen information,” the department wrote.
The State Department says the Russian government has been exceedingly antagonizing in the past year too – harassing and assaulting U.S. personnel in the country, and slowing down (or stopping) attempts by the U.S. to grow its diplomatic efforts there.
President Barack Obama also said his administration will be giving lawmakers a report soon detailing the findings of the investigation into Russia’s possible involvement. You can also read this report from Homeland Security and the FBI about how some of the attacks were perpetrated.
Russia promised to respond to any hostile action by the U.S, CNN reports, and one official also said the country would take similar steps with American diplomats. The Russian Embassy of the United States tweeted a spokesperson said there will be specific announcements tomorrow, while another called the sanctions groundless and illegal.
Update: Putin said Friday that Russia will not kick out U.S. diplomats in his country, CNN reports, calling such a move “irresponsible diplomacy.” He also said he’d work to rebuild U.S.-Russia relations after Trump gets into office.
Trump hasn’t said anything as of Thursday afternoon. But Wednesday, when told of the likely coming action by the White House, he said:
“I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind, the security we need.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar called the U.S. response “the right thing to do,” and has more thoughts in a statement on her website. She also noted she’s in the Baltic region right now with two Republican senators, emphasizing their support for NATO.
Rep. Betty McCollum in an email statement was very in support of the measures, and said Trump should “demand a fully transparent Congressional investigation into this hacking, and maintain strong pressure on Russia’s government.”
Sen. John McCain called the sanctions “long overdue,” but still a small price.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the same, though called it an “appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia,” Reuters reports.