Russia Not to Retaliate Over US Measures

FBI and Homeland Security detail alleged “Russian hacking” in new report, which Moscow has rejected along with reprisals over the US sanctions and expulsion of 35 Russian envoys
Vladimir Putin (L) with Barack Obama Vladimir Putin (L) with Barack Obama
Many consider such steps of the outgoing US administration harmful to Russian-American ties and stonewalling foreign policy plans of the incoming president

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would not eject the US diplomats.

The Foreign Ministry in Moscow on Friday announced its recommendation for taking retaliatory measures against the US State Department's decision to expel 35 Russian diplomats and close two compounds used by Russian intelligence operatives.

The recommendation was rejected by the Russian president later on the same day, Deutsche Welle reported.

Putin has said Russia would "reserve the right to retaliate" against the United States after Moscow examined policies set by the administration of US president-elect, Donald Trump, saying Moscow would not stoop to the level of "marketplace" diplomacy.

"I see the new unfriendly steps, taken by the outgoing US administration, as a provocation aimed at undermining US-Russian relations. This is clearly contrary to fundamental interests of both Russian and American nations," Putin said.

"Taking into consideration the global responsibility of Russia and the US to preserve global safety, this also damages international relations as a whole."

Earlier on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at least 35 US diplomats will be expelled from the country, reported Russian news agencies.

They include 31 diplomats based in Moscow and four others working at the US Consulate in St. Petersburg, reported.

Lavrov was quoted by the media as saying that "US diplomats will also be banned from entering a dacha and warehouse in Moscow".

"We cannot leave such actions without a response. Reciprocity is the law of diplomacy and international relations," Lavrov said.

US President Barack Obama had announced on Thursday that two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related activities, will be closed.

Access to the US compounds will be denied to all Russian diplomats as of noon on Friday.

The State Department also declared 35 Russian intelligence operatives "persona non grata", meaning they must leave the country within 72 hours.

Washington announced the measures on Thursday, stating they were enacted as reprisal for Moscow's involvement in undermining the US presidential elections through cyber attacks.

However, Lavrov on Friday dismissed the allegations, saying they were baseless.

Moscow has consistently denied its involvement in cyber attacks that targeted the Democratic National Committee.

Dispute over Election-Related Hacking

On Thursday, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a statement following a joint analysis of Russia's alleged malicious cyber activity during the elections.

"The intelligence community is confident the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations, and that the disclosures of alleged hacked emails on sites like and WikiLeaks are consistent with the Russian-directed efforts," it said.

Washington has accused the Russian military's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of hacking information with the intent to interfere with the US election, along with help from the Federal Security Service (FSB).

As part of the move, the US released a detailed analysis, conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, attributing the malicious cyber attacks to Russia.

The FSB will face sanctions, along with four individual GRU officers, including agency chief, Igor Valentinovich Korobov, and three other entities.

Moscow has rejected the accusations of hacking and cyber-interference, calling them "unfounded", and warned it would consider retaliatory measures.

Late Thursday, a Kremlin spokesperson said the US sanctions "will destroy diplomatic relations with Russia".

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, signaled that Moscow was now considering retaliatory measures against the US.

He told reporters that the sanctions characterized Obama's "unpredictable" and "aggressive foreign policy".

"Such steps of the US administration that has three weeks left to work are aimed at two things: to further harm Russian-American ties, which are at a low point as it is, as well as, obviously, deal a blow on the foreign policy plans of the incoming administration of the president-elect," Peskov said.

Republicans Welcome Obama's Decision

With Donald Trump due to take office on January 20, Obama's move puts the president-elect in the position of having to decide whether to retract the measures once sworn in as president.

Trump has repeatedly signaled that he intends to take a softer stance toward Moscow.

Responding to news of the sanctions, Trump said it was "time for our country to move on to bigger and better things". However, he has pledged to meet with intelligence leaders next week to be "updated on the facts of this situation".

Despite Trump's stance, other leading Republicans appeared to welcome Obama's decision to impose sanctions, creating a potential wall of opposition should the incoming president seek to overturn his predecessor's measures.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, accused Russia of consistently seeking to undermine the US and said the sanctions were overdue.

Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham indicated they would head efforts to "impose stronger sanctions on Russia".

Earlier, Obama said he implemented the sanctions in response to the Russian government's "aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations" aimed at last month's US election.

The president added, however, that the actions were "not the sum total of our response to Russia's aggressive activities".

"We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized," he said.

In the coming days, Obama's outgoing administration is expected to provide a report to Congress regarding "Russia's efforts to interfere" in last month's vote, as well as other "malicious cyber activity" related to previous elections.

Russian Reaction

In an interview with RIA news agency, Konstantin Kosachev, a spokesman for the Russian Parliament's upper chamber, described the measures as "the death throes of political corpses".

Kosachev told Interfax news agency that Russia would wait to see how Trump responds to the sanctions before outlining any retaliatory steps.

Russia's Embassy in London, meanwhile, decried the Obama administration's actions as "lame", saying it harked back to Cold War relations.

In a tweet, the embassy said it "will be glad to see the last of this hapless [administration]. Accompanying the tweet was a picture of a duck with the caption "lame"-a reference to the phrase "lame duck" used to describe outgoing governments.

The latest anti-Russian sanctions by Obama appear to be his "revenge on US voters" amid the "total political defeat", a deputy State Duma speaker said.

"The outgoing Obama administration’s actions increasingly resemble a revenge on US voters and are getting more and more destructive," Irina Yarovaya told TASS news agency.

Moscow believes that by imposing the sanctions in the waning days of his presidency, Obama is trying to disrupt his successor’s plans.


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