Putin: Moscow won’t ex­pel US diplo­mats

State­ment came hours af­ter For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov sug­gested tit-for-tat ex­pul­sion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Moscow

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin cas­ti­gated the United States on Fri­day for bring­ing sanc­tions and ex­pelling Rus­sian diplo­mats amid al­le­ga­tions of Rus­sian med­dling in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, but said no US diplo­mats will be ousted in reprisal for Wash­ing­ton’s moves in the wake of hack­ing at­tacks.

In a bur­geon­ing con­tro­versy sur­round­ing com­plaints from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion about a cy­ber as­sault against the US po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, the White House on Thurs­day un­leashed a string of sanc­tions and cou­pled them with an or­der that 35 Rus­sians be ex­pelled.

In a state­ment on Fri­day on the Krem­lin’s web­site, Putin re­ferred to the sanc­tions as a “provo­ca­tion aimed to fur­ther un­der­mine Rus­sian-Amer­i­can re­la­tions”. But he also said that Moscow would not be oust­ing US diplo­mats.

“The Rus­sian diplo­mats re­turn­ing home will spend the New Year Hol­i­days with their rel­a­tives and dear ones,” Putin said. “At home. We will not cre­ate prob­lems for US diplo­mats. We will not ex­pel any­body.”

The diplo­matic con­fronta­tion be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Moscow, which had been fes­ter­ing even be­fore the Nov 8 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion el­e­vated Don­ald Trump to the pres­i­dency, puts pres­sure on the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man not to let Rus­sia off the hook af­ter he takes of­fice on Jan 20.

Rus­sia’s gov­ern­ment had threat­ened re­tal­i­a­tion, and it con­tin­ues to deny US ac­cu­sa­tions that it hacked and stole emails to try to help Trump win.

Trump said the US should move on, but in a sign he was no longer to­tally brush­ing off the al­le­ga­tions, he plans to meet with US in­tel­li­gence lead­ers next week to learn more. ‘Mutual re­spect’ key to ties

Putin’s state­ment came hours af­ter For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov sug­gested a tit-for-tat ex­pul­sion in tele­vised re­marks. He said early on Fri­day that Rus­sia’s for­eign min­istry and other agen­cies had sug­gested that Putin or­der ex­pul­sion of 31 em­ploy­ees of the US Em­bassy in Moscow and four diplo­mats from the US Con­sulate in St. Peters­burg. An­other sug­ges­tion is to bar US diplo­mats from us­ing their sum­mer retreat on the out­skirts of Moscow and a ware­house south of Moscow.

But in the web­site re­marks, Putin said, Rus­sia would not pre­vent the fam­i­lies and chil­dren (of diplo­mats) from us­ing the cus­tom­ary rest and leisure fa­cil­i­ties and sites dur­ing the New Year hol­i­days.

“More­over, I am invit­ing all chil­dren of US diplo­mats ac­cred­ited in Rus­sia to the New Year and Christ­mas par­ties in the Krem­lin,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Thurs­day or­dered sanc­tions against the GRU and FSB, lead­ing Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence agen­cies the US said were in­volved.

In an elab­o­rately co­or­di­nated re­sponse by at least five fed­eral agen­cies, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion also sought to ex­pose Rus­sia’s cy­ber tac­tics with a de­tailed tech­ni­cal re­port and hinted it might still launch a covert coun­ter­at­tack.

“All Amer­i­cans should be alarmed by Rus­sia’s ac­tions,” said Obama, who was va­ca­tion­ing in Hawaii. He added, “Such ac­tiv­i­ties have con­se­quences.”

China said on Fri­day that it hopes the United States and Rus­sia could prop­erly solve their dif­fer­ences through friendly ne­go­ti­a­tions, and han­dle their re­la­tion­ship on the ba­sis of mutual re­spect in or­der to re­al­ize its sta­ble devel­op­ment.

“Both the US and Rus­sia are big coun­tries with sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence in the world, and they shoul­der im­por­tant re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in pro­mot­ing world peace and devel­op­ment,” For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing told a daily news con­fer­ence in Beijing.

When asked whether a likely im­prove­ment in US-Rus­sia re­la­tions, af­ter Don­ald Trump takes of­fice as US pres­i­dent, will af­fect Moscow’s ties with Beijing, Hua said China-Rus­sia re­la­tions are ma­ture and sta­ble and able to with­stand the tests of the fluc­tu­at­ing in­ter­na­tional sit­u­a­tion.

“They will not change in a short pe­riod or by a sin­gle in­ci­dent,” she said.

Hua noted that China has al­ways pro­posed to, based on the aims and prin­ci­ples of the United Na­tions Char­ter, pro­mote the es­tab­lish­ment of a new type of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions with co­op­er­a­tion and win-win re­sults at its core.

“Just as I have said, China be­lieves that the two coun­tries will help to main­tain world peace and sta­bil­ity through prop­erly han­dling dif­fer­ences and im­prov­ing their re­la­tions on the ba­sis of equal­ity and mutual re­spect,” she said.

China, the US and Rus­sia are all big coun­tries with global in­flu­ence, as well as per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, Hua said, adding that strength­ened co­op­er­a­tion and fa­vor­able in­ter­ac­tion among them will be also con­ducive to world peace, sta­bil­ity and devel­op­ment.

“We are will­ing to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion with the US and Rus­sia, to make due ef­forts and con­trib­ute to pro­mot­ing world peace and devel­op­ment, as well as solv­ing var­i­ous prob­lems and chal­lenges the world is fac­ing now,” she said.

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