U.S. Government Officially Accuses Russia Of Hacking 2016 Election: How Will Moscow Respond?
The government of the United States has formally accused Russia of interfering with the 2016 presidential election through a series of hacking attacks.
The outgoing Obama administration has issued sanctions for the alleged interference, moves that has prompted the Russian government to promise a retaliation.
FBI, DHS Publish Joint Report On Russian Hacking
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security published a joint report on the Russian hacking operation, which was given the codename Grizzly Steppe [pdf].
According to the report, intelligence operatives working for Russia were able to gain access to the systems of a political party in the United States, presumably the Democratic National Committee, in two different instances. The hackers were said to have stolen files from the party, as well as from the people that were involved with it.
The United States government has previously accused Russia of being behind the wave of hacking attacks that besieged the country before 2016 the presidential election. It was also alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself was involved in giving the go signal to the security breaches, due to their scope and sensitivity.
The largest private commercial Russian bank was also discovered to have been in constant communication with a server belonging to the Trump Organization, hinting at a connection between President-elect Donald Trump and Moscow. Right after Trump's victory, it was also reported that hackers from Russia launched new attacks that targeted think tanks and non-government organizations in the United States.
President Obama Issues Sanctions Against Russia
In accordance with the allegations against Russia, President Obama issued sanctions against two Russian intelligence agencies and expelled 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives.
The operatives were said to have been serving under diplomatic cover from Russia's embassy in Washington and Russia's consulate in San Francisco. The individuals and their families were given 72 hours to return home to Russia.
The move is said to be one of the biggest diplomatic encounters between the United States and Russia since the end of the Cold War.
"All Americans should be alarmed by Russia's actions," President Obama said, but it remains to be seen whether the sanctions will be rolled back by Trump one he assumes the presidency on Jan. 20.
How Will Moscow Respond To The Allegations?
The Kremlin has constantly denied that the government of Russia is involved in any hacking activities that have targeted the United States and its presidential election. In response to the sanctions and expulsions put forward by the Obama administration, the Kremlin promised that it will retaliate, though it is not yet clear how.
According to Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, the government will be issuing official statement and countermeasures soon.