The United States on Thursday expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland in response to a campaign of harassment by Russia against American diplomats in Moscow, a senior US official said on Thursday.
The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the Russian diplomats would be given 72 hours to leave the United States. Access to the two compounds will be denied to all Russian officials as of noon on Friday, the official added.
“These actions were taken to respond to Russian harassment of American diplomats and actions by the diplomats that we have assessed to be not consistent with diplomatic practice,” the official told Reuters.
According to The New York Times, it is also being expected that the US might release evidence linking the recent cyberattacks to computer systems used by Russian intelligence. The actions would reportedly amount to the strongest American response ever taken to a state-sponsored cyber attack aimed at the United States.
The outgoing Obama administration imposed fresh sanctions against Russia reportedly for its alleged role in cyber hacking into servers and emails of American political parties and leaders in the run up to the presidential elections. US officials believed that the spy agency operated with the blessing of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
President Barack Obama had announced investigations into the alleged Russian hacking and the report is expected in early January. US president-elect Donald Trump told reporters that the administration “should do the best they can, figure it all out.”