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The Kremlin dismissed new U.S. sanctions against Russia’s intelligence apparatus and others in the wake of alleged cyber-attacks and interference in the American presidential election, and vowed to respond.
"These American sanctions will in no way influence the work of the General Staff of the Armed Forces' Main Intelligence Directorate," First Deputy Head of Russian State Duma Defense Committee Andrei Krasov was quoted by Russia’s Interfax news agency, referring to the military intelligence service known as the GRU.
"We understand that Obama's administration will leave soon. But it has once again shown its real face," Krasov said.
The Obama administration on Thursday imposed sanctions on the Main Intelligence Directorate as Russia’s military intelligence service is known and ordered 35 diplomats expelled from the U.S.
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Sanctions were also imposed against two suspected hackers and three companies that allegedly provided support to cyber operations by the intelligence directorate.
U.S. intelligence agencies have previously blamed Russia for being involved in cyber-attacks on Democratic party institutions during the presidential election.
The CIA has concluded that the interference was intended to help Donald Trump win, and NBC News has reported that intelligence officials believe “with a high level of confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the covert campaign.
Russia has denied any involvement, and Putin press secretary Dmitry Peskov called the sanctions “groundless and illegitimate from the point of view of the international law," according to Interfax.
"We absolutely disagree with any groundless assertions and accusations voiced against the Russian side," Peskov said.
He said there would be "an adequate and mirror response" that "will make Washington officials feel very uncomfortable as well," according to the Russian embassy in the U.S.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement Wednesday before the sanctions were announced that "if Washington takes new hostile steps, it will receive an answer."
Zakharova said Thursday that there would be "official statements, counter measures and lots of things" on Friday.
Meanwhile, Russia’s embassy in the United Kingdom took to Twitter and posted a picture of a baby duck with the word "lame" over the image, and called the move "Cold War deja vu." It added that it would be glad to see the end of what it called a "hapless" administration.
President-elect Donald Trump has said he doesn’t believe that Russia interfered in the election, and on Wednesday dismissed sanctions against the country, saying "I think we ought to get on with our lives."
Trump echoed that sentiment Thursday, but said he wants to meet with U.S. intelligence officials.
"It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things," Trump said in a statement on the sanctions. "Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."
Leonid Slutsky, head of Russia’s Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, told Russian media that the sanctions are "signs of a real paranoia" and said U.S.-Russian relations are at the lowest point since the Cold War.
"However, all that will not help change the results of the U.S. presidential elections and Donald Trump will become the master of the White House already in January," Slutsky said. "We expect that with him coming, the dialogue between Russia and the U.S.A. will be held in a healthier political atmosphere."
Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have been harsh critics of Russia, called the sanctions and other retaliatory measures “long overdue” and said they intend to lead an effort in Congress to impose even tougher sanctions on the country.
Senate Majority Speaker Mitch McConnell said in a statement Thursday "the Russians are not our friends," and said "sanctions against the Russian intelligence services are a good initial step, however late in coming."