I spoke with BBC Radio Foyle on Friday night about President Obama’s punishment of Russia over Moscow’s interference in the US elections, through dissemination of information gained through hacking of American computers, and its harassment of American diplomats in the Russian capital.
The US measures include sanctions on four Russian individuals and five entities, including the military intelligence service GRU and its head and deputies and the State security service FSB and its senior officials. The Obama Administration also ordered 35 Russian personnel to leave the country and closed Russian compounds in New York and Maryland.
Discussion includes Obama’s motives and Russia’s possible responses, as well as consideration of whether Donald Trump will dare to reverse the measures when he takes office in January.
[UPDATE: President Putin has changed course after initial reports that Russia ordered a tit-for-tat expulsion of 35 US diplomats and closure of an embassy country house and warehouse.
Putin said that he did not want to “sink to Obama’s level” and would wait for the incoming President Trump. Instead of expelling US personnel, he said there would be no expulsions and invited children of American diplomats to a Christmas party.]
If Trump removes the sanctions, he will split his Administration, not just because members of Congress will oppose him but because his own military and his own intelligence agencies — who already are furious against him — will stand against him.
He will be picking a fight which will disrupt his Administration within its first few weeks.