Former US President Barack Obama had a secret strategy to severely punish Vladimir Putin and Russia, according to an exclusive from the Washington Post. The plan came together after the former President and some of his closest aides were handed an extremely secret CIA report on Russian interference in the US Presidential election. Here are some of the startling details

Putin's direct role

In August last year, the CIA sent the then President a highly classified report on widespread Russian interference in the US Presidential elections and Putin's direct role in it.

The CIA's sources within the Russian government had confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin played a key role in the hostile Russian online campaign that tried to discredit the electoral process in the United States.

Putin had not only sanctioned the campaign but had also sent specific instructions to the hacking groups to cause maximum damage to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign. The ultimate objective of the entire campaign was to make sure that Donald Trump ended up becoming the President. In July 2016, the full scope of the Russian hacking operation became quite clear when thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee servers were published on WikiLeaks.

Till then, no one had any idea whether Putin had any direct involvement in the whole campaign, but the CIA report confirmed Obama's worst fears.

Obama's secret plan

The CIA took great care to guard against leaks and in fact, asked the White House to return the documents as soon as the President had perused them. It was only towards the end of Obama's term that a watered down report was published that revealed the extent of Russian interference in the electoral process.

The Washington Post went as far as to say that Russia's actions constituted the 'crime of the century'.

Over the following 5 months or so, Obama weighed up a range of strategies that could be used to hit back at Putin and Russia. To that end, Obama approved a cyber attack that involved the planting of virtual 'bombs' inside the Russian information technology infrastructure.

He had also considered leaking any embarrassing information that the CIA might have on Vlamidir Putin, while a retaliatory cyber attack on Russia had also been weighed up. The President had been so incensed by Putin's audacity that he had for some time thought about imposing crippling economic sanctions that could have destroyed Russia's economy. In the end, Obama ordered the closure of two Russian buildings and expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the United States.