Russia responds to US sanctions: ‘If Washington takes new hostile steps, it will receive an answer’

The Russian government responded to new US sanctions with a vaguely threatening statement condemning the move as “one last blow” to US relations with Russia.

“The outgoing US administration has not given up on its hope of dealing one last blow to relations with Russia, which it has already destroyed,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in the statement.

US President Barack Obama issued new sanctions against Russia on Thursday, calling Russia’s “malicious cyber-enabled activities” a “national emergency” aimed at undermining “democratic processes.”

He also ordered that 35 Russian diplomats be ejected from the US and closed two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland in response to Russian harassment of American diplomats in Moscow.

“Frankly speaking, we are tired of lies about Russian hackers that continue to be spread in the United States from the very top,” Zakharova said in the statement.

“The Obama administration launched this misinformation half a year ago in a bid to play up to the required nominee at the November presidential election and, having failed to achieve the desired effect, has been trying to justify its failure by taking it out with a vengeance on Russian-US relations.”

Obama’s executive order comes over two months after the US intelligence community first accused the Russian government of orchestrating a series of cyberattacks on US citizens and political organizations, saying that “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

The CIA has said the Russians were working toward a specific goal when they hacked into the inboxes of Democratic National Committee staffers and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta: “to help [Donald] Trump get elected” president.

Zakharova said the “anti-Russian accusations” do not contain “a single piece of evidence.”

“We can only add that if Washington takes new hostile steps, it will receive an answer,” she said in the statement.

“This applies to any actions against Russian diplomatic missions in the United States, which will immediately backfire at US diplomats in Russia. The Obama administration probably does not care at all about the future of bilateral relations, but history will hardly forgive it for this après-nous-le-deluge attitude.”

Here’s the full statement:

“The outgoing US administration has not given up on its hope of dealing one last blow to relations with Russia, which it has already destroyed. Using obviously inspired leaks in the US media, it is trying to threaten us again with expansion of anti-Russian sanctions, ‘diplomatic’ measures and even subversion of our computer systems. Moreover, this final New Year’s ‘greeting’ from Barack Obama’s team, which is already preparing to leave the White House, is being cynically presented as a response to some cyberattacks from Moscow.

“Frankly speaking, we are tired of lies about Russian hackers that continue to be spread in the United States from the very top. The Obama administration launched this misinformation half a year ago in a bid to play up to the required nominee at the November presidential election and, having failed to achieve the desired effect, has been trying to justify its failure by taking it out with a vengeance on Russian-US relations.

“However, the truth about the White House-orchestrated provocation is bound to surface sooner or later. In fact, this is already happening. On December 8, US media quoted Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp as saying that the local authorities tracked down the origin of a hacker attack on his voter registration database after the election. The attack was traced to an IP address of the Department of Homeland Security. This was followed by an attempt to quickly cover up this information by a flood of new anti-Russian accusations that did not contain a single piece of evidence.

“We can only add that if Washington takes new hostile steps, it will receive an answer. This applies to any actions against Russian diplomatic missions in the United States, which will immediately backfire at US diplomats in Russia. The Obama administration probably does not care at all about the future of bilateral relations, but history will hardly forgive it for this après-nous-le-deluge attitude.”

Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.

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