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Putin says Russia will not expel US diplomats

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by Joseph Earnest December 30, 2016


Newscast Media MOSCOWRussian President Vladimir Putin's statement made clear that he wants to be seen as taking the high road and to make the Obama administration look vindictive.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Moscow will not expel any Americans from the country, opting out of a tit-for-tat retaliation after the United States kicked 35 Russian officials out over allegations of hacking aimed at interfering in the U.S. election, espionage, and harassment of U.S. diplomats in Russia.

Putin's statement came after Russia had signaled that it would hit back with a "mirror" response to the U.S. expulsions, which were part of a package of measures announced by President Barack Obama's administration that also included sanctions against Russian intelligence agencies and the closure of two recreational compounds for Russian diplomats in the United States.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had sent Putin a list of 35 U.S. diplomats and recommended their expulsion, as well as the closure of a vacation cabin and a warehouse in Moscow that are used by U.S. Embassy personnel.

But Putin's statement, posted on the Kremlin website, made clear that he wants to be seen as taking the high road and to make the Obama administration look vindictive.

It also suggested he would like to avoid an escalation of one of the biggest disputes since the Cold War just weeks before President-elect Donald Trump takes office -- and to increase the chances that Trump, who has indicated he wants better relations with Moscow, will scrap the sanctions.

Trump on Twitter later praised Putin for holding off on retaliatory actions, calling him "very smart."

Putin said that the measures announced by the Obama administration on December 29 were "unfriendly" and "aimed at further undermining Russian-American relations. Considering the special responsibility that Russia and the United States have for preserving global security, this will deal a blow to the whole system of international relations."

But he said that while "reserving the right to take measures in response, we are not going to bring ourselves down to the level of irresponsible 'kitchen' diplomacy, and will base further steps to rebuild Russian-American relations on the policies that President Trump pursues."

"We will not create problems for American diplomats. We are not going to expel anybody," Putin said, pointedly adding that he was inviting "all children of American diplomats accredited in Russia" to traditional New Year and Russian Orthodox Christmas celebrations in the Kremlin.

"It is too bad that President Obama's administration is ending its work in such a way, but nonetheless, I wish him and his family a happy New Year," he said.

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 Source: Radio Free Europe













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