The Obama administration has inflicted on Thursday strike back at Russia for its active attempts to influence elections in 2016, deciding to send from USA 35 Russian intelligence agents and to impose sanctions against two leading Russian security services, including four senior representatives of military intelligence, on orders which, according to the White house, carried out a hacking attack on the servers of the national Committee of the democratic party and other political organizations.
As mentioned in several statements, the United States must also publish evidence of a link between cyber-attacks and computer systems that are used by the Russian intelligence services. Together, these steps would be the most stringent in the entire history of the US response to ongoing state-supported cyber attacks against the United States.
The sanctions also were intended to embarrass the elected President of Donald trump. Trump has repeatedly questioned the involvement of the Russian authorities to hacking servers of the national Committee of the democratic party or other political organizations, claiming that American intelligence agencies cannot be trusted, and assuming that a hacker attack could be the handiwork of some “180-pound guy,” lying “on the sofa or in bed.”
Now Trump when he next month will take office, will have to decide whether to cancel sanctions against the Russian intelligence services — given that among those in favour of a public inquiry into the actions of Russia are the Republicans members of Congress. If trump is going, then he will have to actually invalidate the conclusions of its intelligence services.
On Wednesday evening, while in her home in Mar-a-Lago in palm beach, Florida, trump in response to a question regarding reports about the upcoming introduction of sanctions said: “I Think we ought to think about his life. I believe that computers will seriously complicate our lives. The entire computer age has made life such that nobody really knows what’s going on. We have speed, we have much more, but I doubt that we have the security we need.”
The Obama administration also plans to publish a detailed “analytical his speech” the Federal Bureau of investigation and the Department of homeland security, which, of course, will be based in part on intelligence obtained by the national security Agency. A more detailed report on the intelligence received, prepared on the orders of President Obama, will be published in the next three weeks, although most of the details (especially regarding evidence collected using “bookmarks” implemented in the Russian computer system, eavesdropping and agents) are expected to remain classified.
Despite the hype and the political repercussions in connection with this message, it is not clear how effective will the sanctions actually, although they are much more serious than those of moderate sanctions that were imposed against North Korea for hacking the systems of the film company Sony Pictures Entertainment, the committed two years ago.
Since March 2014, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its actions to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, the U.S. and its Western allies imposed sanctions against major sectors of the Russian economy and contributed to the sanctions list of dozens of people, some of whom are close friends of President Vladimir Putin. Donald trump earlier this year said in an interview with The New York Times that he believes these sanctions are useless and did not rule out the possibility that he will cancel them.
Barack Obama and his administration during the month discussed the question of when and how to introduce, in their words, “proportionate” sanctions in response to the incredible series of events (associated with unauthorized access), which took place during the elections, and to what extent it is possible to publish. Some officials, including Vice President Joseph Biden, say that it is possible to covert the answer is a return that was not clear to the public, and Vladimir Putin.
These responses can be effective and give the result. However, many outside experts believe that as long as will not be strong enough public outcry, which would have made Putin, his government and his vast intelligence apparatus to truly answer for their actions, it is possible that to keep them from further actions, these sanctions will not help.
“They are worried about the issue of control over the response action,” — said the expert on cyber security from the Washington-based Center for strategic and international studies James Lewis (James Lewis).
During the internal debate about what the available evidence can be made public, members of the Obama administration was divided. Although the disclosure of evidence creates the risk that disclosed the sources and methods of obtaining intelligence, this is the best way, according to some officials in the administration, to make clear a number of other countries, including China, Iran and North Korea that their activities can be tracked and exposed.
In the end, Barack Obama has decided to amend the decree, which he issued in April 2015 after hacking the systems of the film company Sony Pictures Entertainment. He signed an amended version in Hawaii on Thursday morning, thereby giving himself and his successor the right to impose a ban on entry and freezing assets of those who “forges, alters or contributes to the theft of information with the intention of interfering in the electoral process or undermine electoral institutions, or promoting it.”
Obama has used this decree to immediately impose sanctions against four representatives of the Russian security services Igor V. Korobov, current head of military intelligence (GRU), and three deputies — the Deputy head of the GRU, Sergei Alexandrovich Lizunova, first Deputy head of the GRU Igor O. Kostyukova and first Deputy head of the GRU, Vladimir S. Alekseeva.
But GRU officials rarely travel to the United States or holding assets there, so it is possible that the impact of sanctions will be mostly symbolic. It is also unclear whether to impose similar sanctions against Russia American allies.
The administration also imposed sanctions on three companies and organizations, which it says has supported the implementation of hacker attacks. It’s the St. Petersburg Special technology center signals intelligence; “OPC Security” (also known as Esage Lab) and the Autonomous nonprofit organization “Professional Association of designers of systems Informatics”, a long title which, according to American officials, was a front for a group that conducts special training in the conduct of hacker attacks.
“With such a name it is difficult to do business worldwide,” said on Thursday morning, a senior administration official with years of experience in the field of anti-Russian sanctions. Since we are talking about confidential information, the official said on condition of anonymity.
But will still remain unclear, was not in effect whether the United States is too slow — so, for example, is poorly supported. According to members of the election headquarters of Hillary Clinton, the distractions that have arisen as a result of leakage of correspondence that illustrates the internal strife in the national democratic Committee, and then the private correspondence of the Chairman of the electoral headquarters of the Podestà John (John Podesta), captured all the attention of the American press. The media was more concerned about the leak than the fact that a foreign power is the old-fashioned information war, using new cybertechnology.
Of course, the United States was notified in a timely manner. The FBI in the fall of 2015, informed the national Committee of the democratic party that sees the signs of a break-mail server Committee. Then we started throwing, fussing and procrastination — and all this lasted for several months. At a recent conference, Obama stated that he first reported it in early summer this year. But one of his top aides on cybersecurity in April, met with Russian officials in Geneva, to Express dissatisfaction with the activities of hackers.
By the time when the democratic leadership realized what was happening, GRU not only received this correspondence with the help of a group of hackers (closely associated with him for many years) but, according to the investigation, also helped to publish this correspondence on multiple sites — from the newly created DC Leaks to the better-known WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, several States have reported “scan” their databases of voters — that American intelligence was also associated with actions of the Russian hackers. But, according to American officials, no evidence that Russia is on election day, tried to manipulate ballot papers or voter lists, no.
Barack Obama has decided not to impose sanctions before the election for fear of Russian retaliation on the eve of election day. Some of his aides now believe was a mistake. But the President before leaving for Hawaii, has made it clear that he intends to take retaliatory action.
Now it remains to be seen whether developed they return something more than just a symbolic response, and if he can stop not only Russia, but also to keep other countries that may attempt to affect future elections.