Russia will not expel anyone in response to US sanctions against the country and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the US, Vladimir Putin has been quoted as saying.
The Kremlin announcement came after Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said he had proposed the expulsion of 35 American diplomats and a ban on US diplomatic staff from using two facilities in Moscow in retaliation for Thursday’s expulsions and sanctions.
However, a statement carried by RIA, the Russian news agency, on Friday quoted Putin as saying he saw the US actions as a move to undermine relations between the two countries.
“We will not create problems for American diplomats. We will not expel anyone,” Putin was cited as saying.
The statement said, however, that Putin would consider the actions of Donald Trump, the US president-elect who takes office next month, when deciding on further steps in the two countries’ relations.
With Thursday’s actions, US President Barack Obama has all but accused Putin of personally ordering a cyber-hack that many Democrats believe damaged their candidate Hillary Clinton’s chances in November’s presidential election of beating her Republican rival Trump.
Putin said Russia reserved the right to retaliate after the US announced the expulsions and the closure of two Russian compounds in a move defended by Obama as “necessary and appropriate” against “efforts to harm US interests”.
Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016