US slaps sanctions on Russia, expels 35 diplomats
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has imposed sanctions on Russian officials and intelligence services in retaliation for Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election by hacking American political sites and email accounts.
The State Department also has kicked out 35 Russian diplomats from its embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco, giving them and their families 72 hours to leave the U.S. The diplomats were declared persona non grata for acting in a "manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status."
Obama said Russians will no longer have access to two Russian government-owned compounds in the United States, in Maryland and in New York.
Russian officials have denied the Obama administration's accusation that the Russian government was trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia's goal was to help Donald Trump win - an assessment Trump has dismissed as ridiculous.
The spokesman for President Vladimir Putin says Moscow regrets the new sanctions and is considering retaliatory steps.
Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that the measures signal Obama's "unpredictable" and "aggressive foreign policy."
Peskov says "Such steps of the U.S. administration that has three weeks left to work are aimed at two things: to further harm Russian-American ties, which are at a low point as it is, as well as, obviously, deal a blow on the foreign policy plans of the incoming administration of the president-elect."
Peskov said Putin has yet to study what the new sanctions involve and work out what retaliatory steps could be.