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    US President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, US, November 10, 2016.

    Obama's Anti-Russia Sanctions Aimed to 'Make Sure Trump Won't Back Off Easily'

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    The new sanctions imposed by the United States against Russia were motivated by President Barack Obama's desire to appease anti-Russia sentiment within the Congress and to influence President-elect Donald Trump's future relations with Moscow, experts told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Thursday, US outgoing President Barack Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, the closing of two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York and new sanctions against six Russian individuals and five entities over Moscow's alleged interference in the November US presidential election.

    Russian officials have repeatedly denied the US allegations of election interference, characterizing them as absurd and laughable nonsense. Moreover, they have said such allegations are intended to deflect US public attention from revelations of corruption and other pressing domestic concerns.

    "I think he is preempting Trump because Trump is likely to have more favorable policy towards Russia that reflects real interest rather than some illusionary ones. Obama is trying to make sure that Trump won’t back off on sanctions easily because it appears that Trump would be going against secret services on this issue," the President of the American Institute of Business and Economics in Moscow, Art Franczek, told Sputnik.

    From his point of view, however, "it is likely that Trump will try to back off on sanctions once he takes the office."

    Franczek noted that the US president was trying to "satisfy hardliners in the states like [John] McCain and Lindsey Graham" due to the Congress' hardline against Russia.

    Dmitri Suslov, deputy director in the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies in Moscow Higher School of Economics, supported the view, stating that by launching sanctions against Russia Obama tried to reach two main objectives: to maximally complicate the normalization of the Russia-US ties and use this issue as a tool for de-legitimizing his successor.

    "I think, this is a sign of [Obama’s] aspiration to make life difficult for Trump and to hinder as far as possible the improvement of the US-Russian relations," the expert suggested.

    He also mentioned that Russia was intentionally forced to mirror Washington's "unprecedented step, not seen since the worst times of Cold War" and to expel in retaliation 35 US diplomats and close two US establishments in Russia.

    "This will complicate the possibility of a quick establishment of Russian-American interaction for the Trump administration. Trump will have to begin from a very low start in dialogue with Moscow," Suslov said.

    The Russian expert added that by introducing sanctions against Russia Obama was also pursuing domestic policy goals.

    "The fanning the hackers issue creates a certain agenda for Trump's administration, so that they cannot brush this issue aside and have to continue to engage with this alleged hacking, committed with the knowledge of senior Russian leaders, into the US NDC," he said.

    According to him, in the event that Russian involvement is proved it would also be a blow for Trump.

    "Trump's administration would be disgraced inside the country thus its legitimacy would be questioned while the possibility to take some bold steps, both in domestic and foreign policy, would decrease," Suslov asserted.

    The question of influencing Trump's administration was also raised by Turkish diplomat, former Trade Representative in Russia and Egypt Aydin Sezer, who explained that the Obama administration is trying to set boundaries within which the elected president is able to proceed in regard to relations with Russia.

    "I think that the main reason for the expulsion of Russian diplomats — is a measure of the American establishment against perceived warming relations with Russia after Trump taking office… Trump, if he finds these warnings superfluous, will have to exert a lot of effort in order to reduce the negative consequences of these actions," Sezer told RIA Novosti.

    He stressed that a key factor behind the decision was the recent US presidential election and its outcome, stating that "I seriously doubt that such a decision would have been made if Hillary Clinton won."

    The expert surmised that the action was taken due to US concerns regarding Russia's recent actions, and the extent of their influence on international events.


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