Rus­sia-US row: Putin rules out tit-for-tat ex­pul­sion of diplo­mats

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has ruled out a tit-for-tat re­sponse af­ter the US expelled 35 Rus­sian diplo­mats amid a row over hack­ing.

He said Rus­sia would not “stoop” to the level of “ir­re­spon­si­ble diplo­macy” but would work to re­store ties with the US un­der Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump.

Rus­sia’s for­eign min­istry had for­mally asked Mr Putin to ex­pel 35 US en­voys.

The coun­try de­nies in­volve­ment in hack­ing re­lated to the US elec­tion, call­ing US sanc­tions “un­grounded”.

Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev ac­cused the out­go­ing US ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama of end­ing in “anti-Rus­sian death throes”.

Un­der the US ac­tion taken on Thurs­day:

Thirty-five diplo­mats

from Rus­sia’s Wash­ing­ton em­bassy and its con­sulate in San Fran­cisco were de­clared “per­sona non grata” and given 72 hours to leave the US with their fam­i­lies

Two prop­er­ties said to have been used by Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence ser­vices in New York and Mary­land were closed on Fri­day

Sanc­tions were an­nounced against nine en­ti­ties and in­di­vid­u­als in­clud­ing two Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, the GRU and the FSB.

Mr Obama, who will be re­placed by Don­ald Trump on 20 Jan­uary, had vowed ac­tion against Rus­sia amid US ac­cu­sa­tions that it di­rected cy­ber-at­tacks on the Demo­cratic Party and Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign.

Emails stolen from her cam­paign man­ager and from the servers of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee - some con­tain­ing em­bar­rass­ing in­for­ma­tion for Democrats - were re­leased dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign.

This was a care­fully stage­m­an­aged re­sponse from Mr Putin - dan­gling the pos­si­bil­ity of tit-for-tat ex­pul­sions and then show­ing mag­na­nim­ity in post­pon­ing any re­sponse - at least for now.

It is fun­da­men­tally a put-down for the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, sug­gest­ing that, in Moscow’s view, it is such a lame-duck, so ir­rel­e­vant, as to make any re­sponse un­nec­es­sary.

It also poses an im­me­di­ate test for Pres­i­den­t­elect Trump. Will he be con­vinced by the ev­i­dence the US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies say they have? And, if so, what course will he steer in his re­la­tions with Rus­sia? This is no new Cold War. Rus­sia is sim­ply a kind of “pocket” su­per­power, noth­ing like the Soviet Union of old. But Mr Putin has shown here in re­la­tions with the West, as in Ukraine and Syria, that he can play a lim­ited hand with great skill. Mr Trump will need to re­spond to this chal­lenge in a de­ci­sive but grad­u­ated way.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.