Incoming U.S. President Donald Trump has hailed the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin to delay his planned expulsion of 35 U.S. diplomats.
Mr. Putin’s planned expulsion of 35 U.S. diplomats was in response to Thursday’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from U.S. among other sanctions over Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election.
Mr. Trump, who had consistently dismissed Russia’s involvement in the hack, called Mr. Putin’s decision a “great move”.
“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Mr. Putin said on Friday that Moscow would not expel American diplomats in response to U.S. sanctions against Russia.
“Further steps toward the restoration of Russian-American relations will be built on the basis of the policies carried out by the administration of President Trump,” a Kremlin statement said.
Mr. Putin said he would not pursue “irresponsible diplomacy” and would instead attempt to rebuild relations with Washington after the inauguration of Mr. Trump.
However, Mr. Putin said tRussia reserved the right to respond to the new U.S. sanctions, which included the expulsion of 35 diplomats from the U.S.
Mr. Obama had on Thursday said his actions were “in response to Russian malicious cyber activity and harassment”.
“Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election.
“These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behaviour.”
“The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives.
“Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity.
“This is to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities,” Obama said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, had thrown his weight behind Mr. Obama’s decision, describing it as “long overdue”.
Many Republican Congress members have criticised Russia’s alleged meddlesomeness in the election against Donald Trump’s position on the issue.