U.S. expels 35 Russian diplomats.

Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 30 December 2016, 15:30 hrs, UTC, Post #67.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Reporter:  Mike Eckel.

Accessed on 30 December 2016, 15:30 hrs, UTC.

Please click link to read the full story.


After weeks of speculation, U.S. President Barack Obama has announced new sanctions against the Russian Federation for its reported interference in the U.S. election process.

On Thursday, 29 December 2016, the United States expelled thirty-five Russian diplomatic and intelligence gathering personnel believed connected to hacking during the November 2016 general election.

The move comes just weeks before President Obama leaves office.  Whether the new sanctions and removal of diplomatic personnel will remain in force after Donald Trump assumes office on 20 January 2016 is unknown.

Here’s the assessment of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe analyst Mike Eckel:

“A senior U.S. administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the four GRU officials were directly involved in computer hacking, including that of U.S. political parties. Three companies hit with sanctions provided “material support” to GRU hacking efforts, the official said.

“These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized,” Obama said in a statement.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied it was behind any computer intrusions of U.S. political parties or e-mail systems, though President Vladimir Putin has also made cryptic comments suggesting possible involvement of Russian officials.

Responding to the White House announcement on December 29, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told news agencies that Moscow regretted the new measures, calling them unlawful and saying they would “destroy diplomatic relations with Russia.”


This “tit for tat” diplomatic dance between Russia and the United States has continued for years.  It’s common knowledge that major world powers spy on each other and sometimes need a pressure valve to express their dissatisfaction with each other.  The expulsion order may be one of those times.

A darker undertone to this strategy is the uncomfortable acknowledgement that efforts to protect our national infrastructure are falling short. Another aspect of this announcement is the recognition that U.S. Foreign Policy has failed to reverse efforts by nations opposed to our priorities and interests in the world.  A far more troubling issue is our apparent inability to “keep up” with the rapidly changing face of cyber warfare–something our adversaries have practiced with great success in a number of nations.

We are seeing a gradual shift in world power, where Russia, China, and other national actors are filling the vacuum once occupied by the United States.  These nations are operating successfully on the world stage without the constraints imposed by our “open” society.

Mr. Trump will have a full diplomatic plate when he enters the White House on 20 January 2017.

For a comprehensive, detailed review of trends in geopolitical intelligence, strategic forecasting, terrorism, and cybersecurity, please visit my Daily Intelligence Briefing at:


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Opinions expressed in this blog are mine unless otherwise stated.

Thanks for joining us today!

Until next time,

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest




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