Obama’s response to Russian hacking, harassment: What you need to know

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

President Barack Obama slapped harsh sanctions on the Russian intelligence services Thursday, both for the hacking that disrupted the U.S. presidential election and for the harassment of U.S. diplomats working in Russia.

The U.S. also released a detailed report exposing Russia’s hacking infrastructure in an effort to help computer specialists prevent more cyberattacks. Obama said more action was coming in response to hacking that “could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government.”

READ MORE: Obama orders sanctions against Russia over US election hacking, expels 35 diplomats

Here are the actions Obama took Thursday:


Obama sanctioned two Russian intelligence services, the GRU and the FSB, plus companies which the U.S. says support the GRU. The cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate theft of its emails determined earlier this year the hacking came from the Fancy Bear group, believed to be affiliated with the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. The FSB is the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Republican Senators call for tougher sanctions against Russia

The president also sanctioned GRU chief Igor Korobov and three of his deputies.

Separately, the Treasury Department sanctioned Alexsey Belan and Yevgeny Bogachev, two Russian nationals who have been wanted by the FBI for cybercrimes for years.


In response to what Obama described as the aggressive harassment of U.S. diplomats in Russia over the past two years by security personnel and police, the State Department expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the embassy in Washington and the consulate in San Francisco. The Russians, who Obama said were intelligence operatives, were declared “persona non grata” and given 72 hours to leave the country.

READ MORE: Asked about Russia sanctions, Donald Trump says ‘we ought to get on with our lives’

The State Department also closed down two compounds the Russian government owns, with access cut off as of noon Friday. One is on the eastern shore of Maryland and the other on Long Island, New York. The U.S. said the recreational facilities were being used for intelligence activities.


The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a report detailing Russia’s cyber interference. The report includes information on computers around the world that Russian intelligence services have secretly co-opted; data that can be used to identify malware used by the Russian intelligence services; and information on how Russian intelligence services typically conduct their activities.

Story continues below advertisement

The stated aim was to help computer specialists detect Russian intrusions and block any new attacks.