Putin: Russia will not expel anyone in response to US sanctions
The Russian president has rejected a suggestion of the foreign ministry to expel 35 American diplomats in response to a similar move by the US. He said Obama’s act was designed to provoke a reaction, but Russia would not take the bait.
“We reserve the right to retaliate, but we will not sink to the level of this irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy. We will take further moves on restoring Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of President-elect Donald Trump adopts,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement published by the Kremlin website.
Putin said that, unlike the Obama administration, Russia will not target foreign diplomats and their families days before New Year’s celebrations. “We will not forbid families and children from spending the New Year’s holidays at the places they are used to. Moreover, I invite the children of all American diplomats with accreditation in Russia to New Year’s and Christmas festivities in the Kremlin,” the Russian president said.
Putin said he regretted that US President Barack Obama is ending his term “in such a way,” but that he extended his New Year’s congratulations to the outgoing US president and his family nevertheless. “I congratulate President-elect Donald Trump and the entire American people!” he concluded.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that Russia respond to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the US by expelling 35 American diplomats from Russia. Similarly, the eviction of a Russian diplomatic staff from two vacation houses in the US would be mirrored by a similar eviction of Americans in Russia.
President Obama targeted Russian diplomats as a part of wider sanctions against Russian, which he justified by the alleged interference by the Russian government in the November presidential election in the US. Moscow denies the allegations
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has proposed expelling 35 American diplomats in response to the recent sanctions imposed by Washington.
“Russia’s Foreign Ministry and their colleagues from other agencies have proposed that President Vladimir Putin proclaim 31 employees of the US Embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the US Consulate service in St. Petersburg as persons ‘non-grata,’” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, as cited by news agencies.
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The proposal also includes a ban on using a recreation facility and storage facility used by American diplomats in Moscow, according to Lavrov.
“We hope these proposals will be reviewed as quickly as possible,” he said.
At the same time, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has refuted a report put out by CNN claiming that Russia will close a school for children of English-speaking diplomats.
Earlier this morning, CNN said that Russian authorities had “ordered the closure of the Anglo-American School of Moscow” in retaliation for the expulsion of 35 members of Russia’s diplomatic staff from the US. The news channel cited an anonymous “US official briefed on the matter” as the source of the information.
The school “serves children of US, British and Canadian embassy personnel, to US and foreign nationals,” the report said.
“This is lies. Apparently the White House has gone completely mad and began to invent sanctions against their own children,” Zakhrarova wrote on her Facebook page.
She added, apparently addressing the journalist: “And don’t write that ‘Moscow has denied… or Moscow will not…’ Write it as it is: ‘CNN and other Western Media once again spread false information, citing US officials.’”
On Thursday, President Obama gave 35 Russian diplomats no more than 72 hours to leave the US, while also evicting Russian diplomats from facilities in Maryland and New York. The new anti-Russian sanctions are part of Obama’s parting shot at Moscow, which he claims interfered in the US presidential election – an allegation that Moscow has repeatedly written off as “nonsense.”
Russia’s first response to this latest move was a sarcastic tweet from the Russian embassy in London that featuring a duckling with the word ‘lame’ over it.
“What really strikes me is the hypocrisy of the American reaction, it’s so childish, it’s obvious sour grapes for having lost, for Clinton’s having lost the election,” former UK diplomat Peter Ford told RT.
“America interferes in elections and referenda around the world every week. Only a few months ago, Obama came to Britain and brazenly and openly interfered into Brexit conspiring with David Cameron in a clearly prearranged script,” Ford said, recounting Obama’s threats to put the UK at “the back of the queue” for trade deals with the US if it voted to quit the EU in June.