US expels 35 Russian diplomats, closes 2 compounds

US expels 35 Russian diplomats, closes 2 compounds

The seats for the Russian delegation are seen unoccupied during the session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. © Mike Segar / Reuters / Reuters


29 Dec, 2016 19:54

Thirty-five Russian diplomats have been expelled from the US, according to a senior official. President Obama described those expelled as “intelligence operatives,” also announcing the closure of two Russian compounds, in New York and Maryland.

The Russian diplomats would be given 72 hours to leave US soil, the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The Russian staff will also be denied access to the New York and Maryland compound as of noon on Friday, the source added.

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US President Barack Obama © Saul Loeb

The measures were introduced “in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election,” Obama said in his statement, calling the measures “a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm US interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.”

All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” the president stressed, again blaming Moscow for orchestrating hacking attacks.

These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government,” he said.

Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year,” Obama added.

According to the US leader, nine Russian entities, including the GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) and the FSB (Federal Security Service), were sanctioned.

Four individual GRU officers of the GRU and three companies that “provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations” were also among the blacklisted.

Obama said that that the newly announced measures weren’t “the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive 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.

The president said the international community “must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance.”



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