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Halt this new US-Russia series of retaliations

In the closing days of the Obama administration, the United States government announced sanctions against Russia’s leading intelligence agencies – the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, and the FSB, successor of the old KGB. It closed down two Russian compounds – in New York and in Maryland. And it kicked out 35 Russian diplomats who, the US claimed, were actually intelligence operatives.

The moves were taken, President Barack Obama said, for Russia’s hacking of the US presidential elections, allegedly aimed at helping the candidacy of Republican candidate Donald Trump against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Russian hackers allegedly broke into the emails of Clinton and the Democratic Party and released them to the public.

President Obama spoke of a possible counterstrike in cyberspace but the actions taken so far appear to have had little effect. The US sanctions included freezing of any US assets of GRU and FSB, but Russian law bars these agencies from having any assets in the US anyway. Russia denied the hacking allegations and called the penalties a clumsy attempt to harm Russian-American ties.

Last September, the US imposed sanctions over Russia’s actions in the Ukraine. The US has also assailed Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, which has led to many deaths among the rebel forces and civilians in Aleppo. The hacking of US elections is the latest cause of discord between the two nations.

Following President Obama’s announcement of sanctions over the election hacking, the Russian government reportedly considered retaliatory moves but said it is taking into account the fact that In a little more than two weeks, the US will have a new president, Donald Trump — who has dismissed the Federal Bureau of Investigation report on the hacking as politicized. On Friday, Putin ruled out any tit-for-tat expulsion of Americans from Russia.

We hope that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be able to settle any problems between their two nations, stop the series of retaliatory actions, and thus eliminate this latest threat to peace and friendly relations between the two, as this inevitably affects peace and stability in the rest of the world.