31, December 2016
US President-elect Donald Trump has praised “very smart” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision not to retaliate Washington’s recent expansion of sanctions against Moscow. On Thursday, President Barack Obama ordered a series of new sanctions against Russia as well as the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, accusing them of being spies.
However, Putin decided not to expel US diplomats in reprisal, saying he would rather wait to work with the Trump administration to solve the issue. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Trump said in a tweet on Friday.
The message soon made the rounds on the internet and was retweeted by the Russian Embassy in the US. The new sanctions came in retaliation for what the White House and the US intelligence community claim to be Russia’s hacks of Democratic operatives and groups during the recent presidential election.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has reportedly determined in a secret assessment that the Kremlin interfered in the November 8 election to particularly help Trump defeat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Russia and Trump have both denied the accusations, with Putin saying that the US should either provide evidence or stop the allegations.
On Thursday, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided technical details about the tools and cyber infrastructure they said Russian civilian and military intelligence services used for the hack attack, code named Grizzly Steppe.
The document said the cyber attack was carried out to “compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the US election, as well as a range of US government, political, and private sector entities.” However, it did not mention by name the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, whose emails were hacked and released during the campaign.
WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that published the emails, has made it clear that a whistle-blower inside the DNC was behind the leaks and Russia had nothing to do with them. Obama’s move in slapping new sanctions on Russia was hailed by Republican heavyweights like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain. Trump, however, criticized the US claims and said it was time to “move on.”