TeleSur News Posted Fri., Dec.30, 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not expel anyone in response to U.S. sanctions and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the United States.
“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,” the Russian president said in a statement published on the Kremlin website.
Putin’s comments came just hours after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had proposed to Putin that Russia expel 35 U.S. diplomats and ban U.S. diplomatic staff from using two facilities in Moscow in retaliation for expulsions and sanctions imposed by Washington.
Lavrov said allegations that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were baseless. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the Obama administration “a group of embittered and dim-witted foreign policy losers.”
This followed U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to expel the 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying and to impose sanctions on the two Russian intelligence agencies over their alleged involvement in hacking U.S. political groups in the 2016 presidential election.
Putin rejected Lavrov’s plan. “We will not expel anyone,” he said in a statement. He also said he saw the sanctions as another step to undermine relations between Moscow and Washington, and he regretted that the Obama administration was ending its term in “such a way.”
Russian officials have portrayed the U.S. sanctions as a last act of a lame-duck president and suggested that Trump could reverse them when he takes over the White House in January.
Earlier Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the Obama administration was ending its term in “anti-Russia death throes.”
“It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia death throes. RIP,” Medvedev, who served as president in 2009 when Obama tried to improve Russia-U.S. relations, wrote on his official Facebook page.
Several progressive commentators have been skeptical of the U.S.’s accusations against Russia, saying that there has been no evidence suggesting Putin’s government was behind the hacks on the Democratic Party.
“We should be extremely skeptical of it for multiple reasons,” said journalist Glenn Greenwald, a co-founding editor of The Intercept. “These are assertions that are being made unaccompanied by any evidence whatsoever.”
Greenwald also said these accusations are part of the Democratic Party’s attempt to blame their failures in this year’s election on the “enemy” Russia despite the fact that “throughout the Obama presidency, he tried accommodating Putin, he didn’t arm anti-Russian factions in Ukraine, he tried cooperating with him in Syria.”