With just a few weeks left in power, President Obama is running out of time to make good on his promise of retaliatory action against Russia to “punish” them for what he and other officials say is an attempt to “hack” the US election. Officials say he’s going to do so “soon,” however, and could make announcements as soon as this week.
The public announcements, officials say, are expected to include economic sanctions and diplomatic moves to “censure” the Russian Federation. The US is also expected to launch cyber-attacks against Russia, though how much of this is public remains to be seen, with Obama previously saying some would be public and some wouldn’t be.
The Hillary Clinton campaign made much of blaming Russia for hacking attacks against the Democratic Party over the summer, building a narrative that claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin had plotted to install Donald Trump as his “puppet.” The Obama Administration has mostly endorsed this narrative, though Obama himself has insisted he isn’t sure on the specific motives.
Russia has denied allegations of trying to influence the US elections, and President-elect Trump has denied being in league with Russia. The narrative has gained a lot of traction among US hawks, however, in no small part because it is being used as a pretext for revenge.
Sen. Lindsey Graham once again endorsed the allegations, despite the lack of public evidence for it, insisting “99 percent of senators” believe Russia was responsible for the hacks. Graham insisted Russia is interfering in all election everywhere around the world, and promised Senate action to “hit” Russia over it.
Russian officials have suggested they expect cyber-attacks to target their financial sector primarily, and indeed a previous round of cyber-attacks hit Russia during the week of the US elections, targeting banks, though it did limited damage.