(CN) - President Barack Obama on Thursday struck back at Russia over its trying to influence the 2016 presidential election, imposing sanctions on Russian's two main intelligence agencies and tossing 35 Russian intelligence officials and operatives out of the country.
Those subject to expulsion from the U.S. include officials suspected of overseeing hacks of a Democratic National Committee server and the email accounts of several Democratic operatives working with the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
In a statement, President Barack Obama said Thursday's actions came after repeated private and public warnings to the Russian government, and he characterized them as, "a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior."
"All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions," he said. "These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year. Such activities have consequences."
The sanctions announced Thursday focus on nine entities and several individuals, including two Russian intelligence services, the Main Intelligence Directorate (a.k.a. Glavnoe Razvedyvatel’noe Upravlenie) and the Federal Security Service (a.k.a. Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti), four GRU officers, and three companies that the White House says provided material support for the hacking operations.
According to the White House, the GRU is involved in external collection using human intelligence officers and a variety of technical tools, and is designated for tampering, altering, or causing a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with the 2016 U.S. election processes.
It says the FSB assisted in those activities.
The three other entities subject to the sanctions are Russia's Special Technology Center, Zorsecurity, and the Autonomous Noncommercial Organization, all of whom the administration says provided technical support for the hacks.
Sanctioned individuals include Igor Valentinovich Korobov, the current chief of the GRU; Sergey Aleksandrovich Gizunov, the agency's deputy chief ; and Igor Olegovich Kostyukov and Vladimir Stepanovich Alexseyev, both first deputy chiefs of the organization.
In addition, the Treasury Department is designating two Russian individuals, Evgeniy Bogachev and Aleksey Belan for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.
During a conference call with reporters after the president's announcement, a senior administrative official said "there is no debate in the U.S. administration about the fact, and it is a fact, that Russia interfered in our democratic election."
"We've established that clearly to our satisfaction," the official said, speaking on background. "I would never expect Russia to come out with their hands up and acknowledge what they did. They don't do that. They still deny that they are intervening in eastern Ukraine and frankly I'd say to journalists, let's look at what they say and what they do.