Obama Held Off On Russian Hack Response To Pursue Failed Syria Deal

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama did not retaliate against Russia for breaching U.S. critical infrastructure for fear of destabilizing negotiations with Russia over the Syrian civil war, The New York Times reports.

CIA officials have reportedly told Congress that Russia explicitly tried to get President-elect Donald Trump into the White House. Trump has disputed the claim, along with several other members of the intelligence community.

The intelligence community is, however, united in the consensus that Russia breached the Democratic National Committee, and released damning email correspondence to Wikileaks.

Russian hacking and meddling efforts came after a sustained campaign the White House was fully aware of.

“Everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen,” a senior Department of State official lamented to TheNYT. Without any response from the White house, Russia continued its hacking campaign.

Meanwhile, every Obama administration effort to negotiate with Russia over the Syrian civil war has been an abject failure. The administration made its first effort in 2013, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own civilian population. Obama declared in 2012 he would attack the Syrian regime if it used chemical weapons, but instead allowed the regime to turn over its stockpile to the Russian government.

Assad simply changed tactics, indiscriminately bombing the civilian population and even continued to use chlorine gas munitions on several occasions. After Assad’s battlefield position started to deteriorate, the Russian government began carrying out airstrikes on his behalf. The airstrikes were pivotal in changing the tide of battle, and have given Assad the strongest battlefield position since the war began.

Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry desperately tried to achieve a ceasefire, reaching a tentative one in February. The ceasefire was repeatedly violated, did not include many of the major parties, and fell apart in a matter of months. After a few more months of indiscriminate bombing by Russia and Syria, Kerry again tried to negotiate a ceasefire.

This most recent ceasefire effort barely lasted a few days before the deal once again fell apart. Russia and Assad again started their bombing campaign, coupled with a brutal ground assault to retake the Syrian city of Aleppo. Aleppo is the largest city inside Syria, was captured by rebels in 2012 and is Assad’s main target for the last year.

The Syrian regime effectively retook the city of Aleppo Tuesday, after four years of war. Fifty-thousand civilians remain trapped inside the city, despite Russian claims a ceasefire had been reached with the rebel coalitions.

“They’ve announced they are going to kill us all,” a Syrian activist told the Associated Press Tuesday.

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