By Andrew Roth:
MOSCOW — In a rare break from the diplomatic tradition of reciprocal punishment, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he would not deport U.S. diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to U.S. hacking sanctions, as Russia looks to cultivate relations with the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
“We won’t create problems for American diplomats,” Putin said in a statement released by his press service Friday afternoon, adding that Russia retained the right to punish U.S. diplomats in the future. He said he would “plan further steps for restoring the Russian-American relationship based on the policies enacted by the administration of President Donald Trump.”
In a terse response, the State Department said Friday: “We have seen President Putin’s remarks. We have nothing further to add.”
Putin’s surprising decision came just hours after the Russian Foreign Ministry suggested that Putin expel 35 U.S. diplomats and close two properties used by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow as part of a growing diplomatic slugfest over Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
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