|Obama and Putin walk into meeting at the U.N.|
WASHINGTON – The United States on Thursday expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland in response to a campaign of harassment by Russia against American diplomats in Moscow, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.
Retaliation also included sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies for supporting hacking operations.
The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the Russian diplomats would be given 72 hours to leave the U.S.
Access to the two compounds will be denied to all Russian officials as of noon on Friday, the official added.
"These actions were taken to respond to Russian harassment of American diplomats and actions by the diplomats that we have assessed to be not consistent with diplomatic practice," the official told Reuters.
The White House is getting ready to announce what it will do to punish Russia for its alleged meddling in the US election, The Washington Post reported.
Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said a number of punitive measures were on the table, including "economic sanctions and diplomatic censure."
Other methods may include covert cyber-operations, the officials said.
The Obama administration was apparently trying to work out exactly how consequences for Russia could be carried out, according to The Post, which said the language in Obama's 2015 executive order that gave him authority to respond to foreign cyberattacks "did not cover efforts to influence the electoral system."
Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, have been at the center of post-election accusations that Democratic Party cyberattacks were orchestrated to help President-elect Donald Trump win the White House in November.
Democratic Party organizations, its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and some of her campaign personnel were repeatedly targeted by hackers leading up to the election.
A stream of stolen documents and emails embarrassing to the party and Clinton were publicly released over the course of several months.
The Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in October officially accused Russia of masterminding the breaches. The FBI agreed to the same earlier this month, confirming a CIA assessment that Russian hackers were indeed involved.
A full investigation is underway at the DNI. Obama directed intelligence officials to look for possible discrepancies dating back to the 2008 presidential election.
Russia has denied the allegations and accused Democrats of being "sore losers." Trump has attempted to frame them as partisan politics.