In an apparent U-turn, Russia on Friday said it will not expel anyone in response to U.S. sanctions against Moscow and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the United States, the Kremlin quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying in the statement on Friday.
“We will not expel anyone,” Putin said in a statement. Earlier, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had proposed to Putin that Russia expel 35 U.S. diplomats and ban U.S. diplomatic staff from using two facilities in Moscow in retaliation for expulsions and sanctions imposed by Washington. Lavrov said allegations that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were baseless.
Obama in his statement further said, “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 US interests in violation of established international norms of behaviour.”
The order issued by President Obama gave additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine US election processes and institutions, or those of its allies or partners.
(With inputs from agencies)