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US must ‘make the Russians feel pain’: John Bolton

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Republican hawk John Bolton

US Republican hawk John Bolton has described the sanctions against Russia announced by the Obama administration as an insufficient response for Moscow’s “attack on our constitutional system.”

On Thursday, outgoing Democratic President Barack Obama announced a series of economic sanctions against Russia, as well as expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, over allegations that it interfered in the 2016 presidential election through cyberattacks.

The sanctions target Russia's FSB and GRU intelligence agencies, four individual GRU officers, and three companies who allegedly provided support to the GRU, and two Russian individuals for using cyberattacks to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.

Under Thursday's actions, the US also shut down two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland that the United States says are used "for intelligence-related purposes."

However, Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, remained unimpressed by the Obama administration’s harsh actions against Russia.

“I don't think they will have much impact at all,” Bolton said on Fox News in a Friday morning interview.

“The Russians have walked all over the Obama administration for eight years. It's really been a pathetic performance. So what this last burst of activity has to do is hard to say. I do think it's intended to try and box the Trump administration in. I think it will fail. This is simply an executive order,” he said.

“If President Trump decides to reverse it, it's easy enough to do,” he added.

Bolton said that if the sanctions are meant to deter Russia, then the United States must “make the Russians feel pain.”

The White House said in a statement on Thursday that there was the consensus from the US Intelligence Community that Russia's intervention in the US election via cyberhacking as "unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

"Russia's cyberactivities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in US democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the US government," the statement said. "These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

The Obama administration has repeatedly claimed that the hacking attacks weeks before the election against some Democratic organizations were carried out by Russia as part of Moscow’s plan to interfere in the election process in order to sway the vote in President-elect Donald Trump’s favor, a claim that has been rejected by Moscow.

According to Obama, US intelligence agencies are in possession of evidence that shows Russian President Vladimir Putin supervised the hacking, which targeted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, a top aide to defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Bolton, who was once tipped to be secretary of state in the incoming Trump administration, said that if even a piece of what is alleged about this Russian activity is true, it is utterly unacceptable.”

“It is an attack on our constitutional system. It is not enough to say, and people should be very careful about this, to say, well, it didn't actually have an impact on the election. You know, the fact that Russian efforts were incompetent or insufficient shouldn't make us feel better,” he added.

Moscow has rejected the US hacking accusations as “unfounded,” while calling on the Obama administration to provide proof of its interference in the election.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday decided not to expel US diplomats in reprisal for the Obama administration's ill-advised sanctions. "We will not expel anyone," Putin said in a statement.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed to expel 35 American diplomats in retaliation for the similar move by Washington.

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