One day after Barack Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S., Vladimir Putin advisers recommended reciprocity by expelling 35 U.S. diplomats from Russia.
Signaling anticipation of the Trump administration, Putin refused the advice. What he did instead was a surprise.
Here’s more from Newsmax:
The United States unleashed a string of sanctions and ordered expulsion of 35 Russians in retaliation for alleged cyber-meddling against the U.S. election, but President Vladimir Putin ruled out any move to kick out American diplomats in response to Washington’s move.
In a statement on the Kremlin’s web site Friday, Putin referred to the sanctions as a “provocation aimed to further undermine Russian-American relations.” But he also said Moscow would not be expelling American diplomats, as the Obama administration had ordered against Moscow.
“The Russian diplomats returning home will spend the New Year Holidays with their relatives and dear ones,” Putin said. “At home. We will not create problems for U.S. diplomats. We will not expel anybody.”
The diplomatic showdown between Washington and Moscow, which had been festering even before the Nov. 8 presidential election elevated Donald Trump to the presidency, puts pressure on the billionaire businessman not to let Russia off the hook after he takes office on Jan. 20.
Russia’s government had threatened retaliation, and it continues to deny U.S. accusations that it hacked and stole emails to try to help Trump win. Trump said the U.S. should move on, but in a sign he was no longer totally brushing off the allegations, he planned to meet with U.S. intelligence leaders next week to learn more.
Putin’s statement came hours after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested a tit-for-tat expulsion in televised remarks. He said early Friday that Russia’s foreign ministry and other agencies have suggested that Putin order expulsion of 31 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg. Another suggestion is to bar American diplomats from using their summer retreat on the outskirts of Moscow and a warehouse south of Moscow.
But in the web site remarks, Putin said, Russia would not prevent the families and children (of diplomats) from using the customary rest and leisure facilities and sites during the New Year holidays. “Moreover, I am inviting all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas parties in the Kremlin,” he said.