Washington – Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Thursday a series of measures against Russia in the wake of Moscow’s intervention in the U.S. presidential elections by declaring 35 diplomats as “persona non grata.”
“These actions are not 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.
He said the actions follow repeated private and public warnings that Washington 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’s comments came in a statement from Hawaii, where he is on vacation.
Obama, a Democrat, had promised consequences after U.S. intelligence officials blamed Russia for hacks intended to influence the 2016 election.
On Thursday, the White House expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland.
The White House also sanctioned nine entities and individuals: two Russian intelligence agencies, four officers of its largest intelligence agency, GRU, and three companies that supported GRU’s operations.
A U.S. senior official told Reuters that the Washington was also closing two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland that were used by Russian personnel for “intelligence-related purposes.”
The Russians have 72 hours to leave the United States, the official said. Access to the two compounds will be denied to all Russian officials as of noon on Friday.
The U.S. official declined to name the Russian diplomats who would be affected, although it is understood that Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, will not be one of those expelled.