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Putin's Surprise Move: He Won't Deport US Diplomats

Despite recommendation from Foreign Ministry head, Putin says he won't partake in 'irresponsible diplomacy'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2016 5:32 AM CST
Updated Dec 30, 2016 7:19 AM CST
Russia Vows Retaliation Over 'Loser' US Sanctions
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a New Year's reception in the Kremlin in Moscow on Wednesday.   (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – Not many would be surprised if Moscow retaliated for fresh US sanctions over what it calls "groundless" accusations of election hacking, and one proposal seemed to point in that direction: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he wants to expel 35 American diplomats in return for the US expulsion of 35 Russians, CNN reports. But although Vladimir Putin called Obama and his allies "political corpses," accusing them of trying to sabotage Donald Trump's foreign policy plans and further damage US-Russia ties, per the New York Times, he's now saying he won't engage in "irresponsible diplomacy" by taking the deportation route, opting instead to mend those ties once Donald Trump takes office, the BBC reports.

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"We won't create problems for American diplomats," Putin said in a statement released Friday, the Washington Post reports. Prior to that, Russian diplomats around the world slammed the new US sanctions, with a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman calling the Obama administration a "group of foreign policy losers, angry, and ignorant." Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, meanwhile, said he was disappointed, per the AP. "It is sad that the Obama administration that began its life by restoring ties ends it with anti-Russian death throes," he tweeted. Trump said Thursday that it is time to "move on" from the controversy, though some congressional Republicans welcomed what they called an overdue harder line on Russia, the Washington Post reports. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham were among those calling for tougher sanctions. (Read more Russia stories.)

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