**FILE** President Barack Obama talks with Tom Donilon, chair of the President's Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, in the Lower Cross Hall of the White House on Dec. 2, 2016. (Pete Souza/White House)
**FILE** President Barack Obama talks with Tom Donilon, chair of the President's Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, in the Lower Cross Hall of the White House on Dec. 2, 2016. (Pete Souza/White House)

President Barack Obama has authorized several actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election in 2016.

According to a statement released Thursday by the White House, Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions and electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government.

“These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the statement read.

Obama said the actions follow repeated private and public warnings that the U.S. have been issued to the Russian government, and which are necessary and appropriate responses to efforts to harm U.S. interests.

“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions. In October, my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process,” Obama said. “These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year. Such activities have consequences.”

Obama issued sanctions against nine entities and individuals, including two Russian intelligence services, four individual officers of the GRU and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.

In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.

The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring 35 Russian intelligence operatives as personae non grata.

Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity, to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.

“We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized,” Obama said. “In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance. To that end, my administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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