On Friday, just one day after the United States expelled 35 Russian diplomats and imposed new sanctions on the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin did something nobody expected.
Not only did Putin decline to retaliate against Obama’s decision to expel Russian diplomats from U.S. soil, he also invited the children of American Diplomats in Russia to the Kremlin for New Year’s celebrations.
Putin’s announcement came just minutes after Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, recommended that Russia expel American diplomats in response to Obama’s action.
“We will not create any problems for U.S. diplomats. We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year’s holidays,” Putin said Friday.
“Moreover, I invite all children of U.S. diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children’s parties in the Kremlin,” he added.
Putin accused Obama of taking “provocative” measures “aimed at further weakening the Russia-U.S. relationship,” and acknowledged that Russia reserves “the right to take reciprocal measures” against Obama’s actions.
However, the Russian president decided against downgrading himself “to the level of irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy” shown by Obama’s administration.
In his statement, Putin made clear that future Russian-U.S. foreign relations will be based on the policies of President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration.
Putin concluded his statement by offering wishes of “happiness and prosperity” to President Obama, President-elect Trump, and the American people.
Trump took kindly to Putin’s statement. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart,” he wrote on Twitter.
Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016
Meanwhile, a U.S. official, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said Thursday that Russian diplomats have 72 hours to leave American soil.
Access to two Russian compounds, located in New York and Maryland, were denied to Russian officials as of noon local time on Friday.
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