Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer has wondered whether the Obama administration’s response to the alleged Russian hacking against the U.S. political institutions was justified and proportionate.
"I think one of the questions that we have is why the magnitude of this?" Spicer said in an interview with the ABC News channel speaking about the Obama administration’s decision to expel 35 Russian diplomats and close two compounds owned by the Russian government.
"The question is, is that response in proportion to the actions taken?" he said.
Spicer recalled the cyberattacks in 2015 against the U.S. government and that Washington accused China of being behind them. "China took over a million records, sensitive data of people like me who had worked in the government at any time, classified or personal information, where we lived, things we had written down on our applications, our security clearances, and not, a White House statement wasn't even issued. No action publicly was taken," he said.
"So there is a question about whether there's a political retribution here versus a diplomatic response," Spicer said.
The speculations on hackers, who allegedly act upon Russia’s instructions, have been regularly emerging in U.S. mass media reports over the past months. In July, WikiLeaks published emails stolen by hackers from the systems of the U.S. Democratic National Committee (DNC). The U.S. administration claims that Russian hackers were tied to the cyberattacks.
On Dec. 29, the outgoing U.S. administration slapped new sanctions on Moscow over the alleged hacking into U.S. political institutions. These sanctions apply to several Russian companies, the Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Agency of Russia’s General Staff. Besides that, the U.S. authorities declared 35 Russian diplomats persona non grata and shut down two recreational compounds in New York and Maryland owned by the Russian government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would not expel U.S. diplomats from Russia in response to "unfriendly actions by the outgoing U.S. administration."
Moscow has repeatedly denied any role in cyberattacks. Commenting on the new sanctions, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they were a manifestation of aggression.
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