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EghtesadOnline: The Obama administration will announce sanctions against Russian officials and state institutions in retaliation for hacking Democratic Party e-mails in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the process.

The measures, set to be announced Thursday, target officials in Vladimir Putin’s government, including some tied to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. The GRU has been linked by private cybersecurity companies to the hacking of the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee and party officials. The U.S. move would hit some Russian state institutions and cyber companies associated with them, one of the people said.

According to Bloomberg, the hackers leaked the pilfered e-mails in a bid to damage the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according U.S. intelligence agencies. She lost to Republican Donald Trump who has repeatedly scoffed at the finding that Russia was behind the cyberattacks.

The U.S. will expand a 2015 executive order issued by the President Barack Obama, widening his ability to impose economic penalties due to a cyberattack, according to one of the people, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of an announcement by the White House.

The moves will ratchet up tensions with Russia less than a month before Trump’s inauguration. The president-elect, who has said the hacking could have been the work of “somebody sitting in a bed someplace,” told reporters Wednesday that “we ought to get on with our lives.”

Any action also raises the possibility of an escalating cycle of finger-pointing and retaliation between Washington and Moscow despite Trump’s pledge to seek better relations with Putin. The Russian government, which has denied responsibility for the hacking, has vowed to respond to any new sanctions with unspecified counter-measures.

U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russian government directed the hacking. “Only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities," the Office of Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement one month before the Nov. 8 election.

Barack Obama US presidential election Russia sanctions Russia hacking US-Russia relationship