Putin: I Won’t Expel U.S. Diplomats

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected a proposal to kick out 35 U.S. diplomats from the country, despite a recommendation to that effect by his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. “While we reserve the right to respond, we will not drop to this level of irresponsible diplomacy, and we will make further steps to help resurrect Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of D. Trump will pursue,” Putin said in a statement. Lavrov had proposed to kick out the officials in response to the U.S. decision to expel the same number of Russians—announced just one day earlier. Putin’s statement also wished Obama, Trump, and all Americans a happy new year, and he invited “all the children of American diplomats accredited in Russia to the new year and Christmas tree in the Kremlin.” The Obama administration decision was largely based on the belief by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia ordered cyberattacks on American political and government organizations in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacted angrily to the U.S.-imposed measures, calling the Obama administration “foreign policy losers.”