MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin castigated the United States on Friday for imposing sanctions and expelling Russian diplomats amid allegations of Russian meddling in the American presidential election, but said no U.S. diplomats will be ousted in reprisal for Washington’s moves in the wake of hacking attacks.
In a burgeoning controversy surrounding complaints from the Obama administration about a cyberattack against America’s political system, the White House on Thursday unleashed a string of sanctions and coupled them with an order that 35 Russians be expelled.
Putin on Friday, however, said that Moscow would not be ejecting American diplomats in response to what he described as “provocation aimed at further undermining Russian-American relations.”
“The Russian diplomats returning home will spend the New Year holidays with their relatives and dear ones,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin website. “We will not create problems for U.S. diplomats. We will not expel anybody.” The diplomatic confrontation between Washington and Moscow, which had been festering even before the Nov. 8 presidential election elevated Donald Trump to the presidency, puts pressure on the billionaire businessman not to let Russia off the hook after he takes office on Jan. 20.
Russia’s government had threatened retaliation, and it continues to deny U.S. accusations that it hacked and stole emails to try to help Trump win.
Trump said the U.S. should move on, but in a sign he was no longer totally brushing off the allegations, he plans to meet with U.S. intelligence leaders next week to learn more.
Putin’s statement came hours after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested a tit-for-tat expulsion in televised remarks. Agencies
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