Putin decides against tit-for-tat expulsion of US diplomats
Russia’s foreign ministry had proposed expelling US diplomats from Moscow in response
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declined to engage in a tit-for-tat after the US expelled 35 Russian diplomats over the hacking scandal.
(BBC News) He said Russia would not “stoop” to the level of “irresponsible diplomacy” but would work to restore ties with America under President-elect Donald Trump.
The Russian foreign ministry had formally asked him to expel 35 US diplomats in retaliation.
Russia denies involvement in hacking, calling US sanctions “ungrounded”.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev accused the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama of ending in “anti-Russian death throes”.
Diplomatic spat goes undiplomatic
Under the US action taken on Thursday:
- Thirty-five diplomats from Russia’s Washington embassy and its consulate in San Francisco were declared “persona non grata” and given 72 hours to leave the US with their families
- Two properties said to have been used by Russian intelligence services in New York and Maryland will be closed
- Sanctions were announced against nine entities and individuals including two Russian intelligence agencies, the GRU and the FSBMr Obama, who will be replaced by Donald Trump on 20 January, had vowed action against Russia amid US accusations that it directed cyber-attacks on the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.Emails stolen from her campaign manager and from the servers of the Democratic National Committee – some containing embarrassing information for Democrats – were released during the election campaign.‘Come to the treeIn a statement on the Kremlin website (in Russian), Mr Putin said: “We won’t be expelling anyone.
“We won’t be banning their families and children from the places where they usually spend the New Year holidays. Furthermore, I invite all children of American diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas Tree in the Kremlin.”
He wished Barack Obama and his family a happy New Year, as well as Mr Trump and “the whole American people”.
President-elect Trump has dismissed the hacking claims as “ridiculous” and said Americans should “get on with our lives” when asked previously about the possibility of sanctions.However, he said late on Thursday he would meet US intelligence chiefs next week to be “updated on the facts of this situation”.
- 18 revelations from Wikileaks’ hacked Clinton emails
- Can the hack be traced to Russia?The foreign ministry had suggested expelling 31 US diplomats from Moscow and four from St Petersburg, he said.It also suggested banning US diplomats from their dachas (holiday homes) in Serebryany Bor near Moscow and a warehouse on Moscow’s Dorozhnaya Street.Russian media say the Russians facing expulsion from the embassy in Washington are struggling to buy plane tickets because flights are full ahead of the New Year holiday.They will be forced to travel to New York, where their chances of finding plane seats are better, an “informed source” told Interfax news agency.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has denied a report by CNN that Moscow is shutting down a school attended by diplomats’ children.
She said it was a “lie” that the Anglo-American School faced closure as retaliation.
Meanwhile, the Russian embassy to the UK tweeted a visual gag calling the Obama presidency a lame duck.