Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he would not “resort” to “irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy” one day after President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian intelligence operatives. The Russian leader described the Obama administration’s actions as “unfriendly,” but indicated he was looking ahead to repairing U.S.-Russian relations with President-elect Donald J. Trump.
“Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-U.S. relations based on the policies of the Trump administration,” Mr. Putin said in a statement. “The diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year’s holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for US diplomats. We will not expel anyone.”
The response is a 180-degree turn from Russia’s typical tit-for-tat response to U.S. sanctions. The new high road tactic comes as Mr. Obama has roughly 3 weeks left in his presidential term.
“We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year’s holidays,” Mr. Putin added. “Moreover, I invite all children of U.S. diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children’s parties in the Kremlin.”
— Russia in USA ?? (@RusEmbUSA) December 30, 2016
Mr. Obama has been under pressure from within both political parties to respond to the alleged cyber attacks, which included emails hacked from corrupt Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign operatives. The mainstream American media largely tried to bury the content of the leaks during the campaign for the Nov. 8 presidential election. Thus far, none of the parties pointing the finger at Russia have put forward evidence to prove the allegation and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has indicated the source of the leaks was an inside job.
Mr. Obama, who in early Nov. first took the position there was no evidence indicating Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election, added the order to a growing list of unprecedented moves taken in the final days of a presidency. It marks a new low in U.S.-Russian relations and Moscow was considering retaliation.
President-elect Trump said Thursday “it’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things” after the Obama administration issued sanctions against Russia for its alleged 2016 election hacking.
“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Mr. Trump said in a statement after the announcement. “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”
The cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate the hack of its emails earlier this year claims the hacking came from the Fancy Bear group, which is believed to be affiliated with the GRU. However, the U.S. government has stopped short of confirming these specific findings even as they level the charges against Russia. President-elect Trump will meet with U.S. intel officials to get briefed on whatever evidence they may have collected.
“It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner,” Mr. Putin said. “Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family. My season’s greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people. I wish all of you happiness and prosperity.”