Russia not to expel US diplomats: Vladimir Putin
In a shocking move, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday decided not to expel any US diplomat in response to the recent sanctions imposed by Washington.
Moscow: In a shocking move, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday decided not to expel any US diplomat in response to the recent sanctions imposed by Washington.
"We will not create problems for American diplomats. We will not expel anyone," Putin said in a statement released by the Kremlin.
Putin's response came as reports were doing rounds that the Russian Foreign Ministry was proposing to expel 35 American diplomats.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said he had proposed the measures to President Putin. The allegations that Russia interfered in US elections were baseless, he said.
US President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian dipomats suspected of spying and to impose sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over their alleged involvement in hacking US political groups in the 2016 presidential election.
Russian Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev said the Obama administration was ending its term in "anti-Russia death throes".
"It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia death throes. RIP," Medvedev, who served as Russian president in 2009 when Obama tried to improve Russia-U.S. relations, wrote on his official Facebook page.
Obama's broadside over cyberattacks sent ties between Russia and the United States -- already at their worst since the Cold War -- to a fresh low less than a month ahead of President-elect Donald Trump taking charge.
Making good on a promise to punish Putin's government for allegedly trying to tilt the 2016 election in Trump's favour, Obama on Thursday unveiled a broad range of steps against Moscow including the diplomat expulsions.
US intelligence concluded that a hack-and-release of Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton staff emails was ordered by the Kremlin and was designed to put the Republican real estate mogul in the Oval Office.
"I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government's aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election," Obama said in a statement.
In response to the hacks, dubbed "Grizzly Steppe" by US officials, Obama announced sanctions against Russia's military intelligence agency, known as GRU, and the FSB -- the KGB's successor.
The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected the US accusations of cyber-interference and spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the Obama administration of trying to "definitively destroy US-Russia relations which have already reached a low."