With just over one month until the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, the US president has issued one of the strongest threats to Russia over its alleged role in influencing the 2016 US election.
A week ago, Obama ordered a full review of the entire election process in the US following allegations that ranged from Russia potentially interfering in polling results in key swing states, to the use of Wikileaks as pro-Trump propaganda.
Now the president is to issue a statement to the US public in what would appear to show – before the report is even published – that Russia had a big role to play and that retaliation will come.
According to extracts released by National Public Radio (NPR) – which is due to broadcast the Obama speech on the evening of 16 December – Obama threatened a response to any cyberattacks or online influence over America.
“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections … we need to take action. And we will — at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicised; some of it may not be.”
The decision to target Russia in particular without a formal conclusion to the report follows the findings of the US’s two largest intelligence organisations, which came out in agreement that Russia played a part in hacking during the election.
‘There’s no doubt that it contributed’
However, both sides differ when it comes to the potential goal of Russia’s actions; while the CIA believes that it wants a Donald Trump victory, the FBI has yet to find such a conclusion.
Obama has however come out to defend his fellow Democratic Party member Hillary Clinton following her defeat in the presidential elections, by saying there is no doubt hacking played a considerable role in the election’s outcome.
“There’s no doubt that it contributed to an atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time, were Hillary’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC,” Obama said.
Meanwhile, Trump took to Twitter to criticise the current administration for only acting after the fact, rather than before.
If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
However, it was quickly pointed out to the president-elect that the country’s intelligence agencies officially accused Russia of its part back in October.
US President Barack Obama during the 2016 election campaign. Image: K2 Images/Shutterstock