President Obama announces sanctions against Russia for election cyberhacking

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At a White House briefing on Friday, March 1, 2013, President Obama said that "dumb, arbitrary cuts" in government spending that take effect Friday are "unnecessary and inexcusable." And he said that Republicans were divided over how to avert forced spending cuts, saying some backed his call to eliminate some tax loopholes to raise more revenue as part of the solution. Obama spoke to the press after members of congress met with him at the White House to discuss the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to go into effect.

President Barack Obama took unprecedented steps Thursday in issuing an executive order against six Russian individuals and five Russian entities in relation to what the Treasury Department said was to address “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.”

This is the first time the names of Russian officials involved in the hacking have become public on the sanctions list.

Obama also said in a separate statement that 35 Russian diplomats have been ordered to leave the country, and 2 Russian compounds are being closed under Thursday’s actions.

A White House statement described the consensus from the Intelligence Community that Russia’s meddling in US elections via cyberhacking as “unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

“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,” the 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.

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 U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said in the statement.

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