Russian President Vladimir Putin is not keen on retaliating against the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russian diplomats over the hacking scandal.
He declared yesterday that Moscow would not “stoop” to the level of “irresponsible diplomacy”, and would work to restore ties with America under President-elect Donald Trump.
Putin said he “wouldn’t create problems for American diplomats” 24 hours after Obama announced the expulsion of the Russian diplomats from the United States and ordered the closure of Russian-owned facilities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and on Long Island in New York.
The Russian foreign ministry had formally asked him to expel 35 US diplomats in retaliation.
Russia denied 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”.
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 FSB.
Obama, who will be replaced by Donald Trump on January 20, 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.
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.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had,before Putin’s reaction yesterday,said “RIP” to the outgoing US administration of Barack Obama on Twitter, after the White House decided to expel 35 Russian diplomats.
“It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia agony. RIP,” Medvedev said.
The vice speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Irina Yarovaya, also said yesterday that the US sanctions against Russia were Obama’s “revenge on voters” who elected Trump.
Americans showed in the recent presidential election that they have “discarded such aggressive and Russophobic policies,” Yarovaya said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.
Trump, who has previously praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and vowed to seek better relations with the country, could theoretically reverse Obama’s executive actions when he enters office on January 20.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced Obama’s actions as “groundless and illegal from the point of view of international law,” according to comments carried by TASS.
Peskov said that Russia was ready to conduct a response to cause “significant discomfort to the US,” TASS reported.
Amidst the faceoff, the Russian embassy to the UK yesterday tweeted a visual gag calling the Obama presidency a lame duck.