Russia won’t expel US diplomats in tit-for-tat measure – Putin

 Russia won’t expel US diplomats in tit-for-tat measure – Putin

Vladimir Putin has said Russia will not expel any US diplomats in response to the US decision to kick out Russian officials over allegations of interference in the US presidential election.
The foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said earlier on Friday that he was recommending that Putin expel 35 American diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to the US move.
Putin said Russia’s response would depend on US attitudes to Russia under the new administration of Donald Trump, who has repeatedly spoken positively of Russia and Putin. Russia is accused of intervening in the election in support of Trump.
“While we reserve the right to respond, we will not drop to this level of irresponsible diplomacy, and we will make further steps to help resurrect Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of D. Trump will pursue,” the Russian president said in a statement on the Kremlin’s website.
The statement also wished Obama, Trump and the American people a happy new year and invited “all the children of American diplomats accredited in Russia to the new year and Christmas Tree in the Kremlin”.
Earlier, Lavrov had suggested that Russia would cut off use of a warehouse building in Moscow and an embassy dacha on the outskirts of the Russian capital. Putin said this would not happen, at least over the new year period.
US intelligence services believe Russia ordered cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other political organisations, in an attempt to influence the election in favour of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.
The US move, announced on Thursday, involved the sanctioning of Russia’s GRU and FSB intelligence services, individuals and companies linked to them, and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats the US believes are engaging in espionage. They were given 72 hours to leave the country.
Obama said Americans should “be alarmed by Russia’s actions”. He added that more actions would be taken, “some of which will not be publicised”.
Diplomatic expulsions are normally met with reciprocal action. In 2001, the George W Bush administration kicked out 51 Russian diplomats it said were spies. Russia responded by telling 50 US diplomats to leave Russia.
Russia, which has repeatedly denied the hacking allegations, reacted furiously to Obama’s measures.
Overnight, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova launched a stinging attack on the outgoing US administration, writing on Facebook: “The people who have spent eight years in the White House are not an administration, they are a group of foreign policy losers, embittered and short-sighted. Today, Obama officially proved this.
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying the US move represented “the death throes of political corpses”.
The Twitter feed of the Russian embassy in London, meanwhile, called the Obama administration “hapless” and attached a picture of a duck with the word “lame” emblazoned across it.
A Russian diplomatic source told Interfax that the US move was “completely unexpected” and many of the diplomats had been preparing to celebrate New Year’s Eve, the biggest Russian holiday. Many were struggling to find tickets back to Russia, as planes were full because of the holiday season, the source said.
On Thursday, Trump, who has previously dismissed reports of Russian interference in the election, said: “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.”
He added, however, that “in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation”.
In a conference call with reporters, senior White House officials said the president-elect’s transition team had been informed of the sanctions before they were announced on Thursday. Trump and Obama spoke on Wednesday, they said.
The officials added that the actions were a necessary response to “very disturbing Russian threats to US national security”.
“There has to be a cost and a consequence for what Russia has done,” a senior administration official said. “It is in a extraordinary step for them to interfere in the democratic process here in the United States of America. There needs to be a price for that.”

moscow-kremlin

LTV

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