Putin says Russia won’t engage in tit-for-tat expulsions after US expels diplomats

    Russian President Vladimir Putin castigated the United States this morning for imposing sanctions and expelling Russian diplomats amid allegations of Russian meddling in the American presidential election, but says no U.S. diplomats will be ousted in reprisal for President Barack Obama’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, The Associated Press reports.

    Putin, however, says Moscow would not eject American diplomats in response to what he described as “provocation aimed at further undermining Russian-American relations” less than a month before Donald Trump is to take over the White House.

    The decision came as a surprise; tit-for-tat expulsions are common diplomatic practice and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had suggested hours before Putin’s announcement that Russia would oust 31 American diplomats.

    “The Russian diplomats returning home will spend the New Year holidays with their relatives and dear ones,” Putin says in a statement published on the Kremlin website. “We will not create problems for U.S. diplomats. We will not expel anybody.”

    The Associated Press has the full story.

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