Friday, 30 December 2016

Russia: Getting ready to expel US diplomats in response to sanctions



The Russian foreign ministry has called for the expulsion of 35 US diplomats in response to a similar move by Washington.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the request had been made to President Vladimir Putin.
The Obama administration expelled 35 Russia diplomats and their families over alleged Russian hacking during the US election campaign.
Russia denies any involvement and calls the US action "ungrounded".
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev accused the outgoing 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 compounds said to have been used by Russian intelligence services in New York and Maryland will be closed 
  • 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.
President-elect Trump has dismissed the hacking claims as "ridiculous" and said Americans should "get on with our lives" when asked previously about the possibility of sanctions. 
However, he said on Friday he would meet US intelligence chiefs next week to be "updated on the facts of this situation".
"Of course, we cannot leave attacks like this unanswered," said Mr Lavrov. "Mutuality is the law of diplomacy in international relations."
The foreign ministry suggested expelling 31 US diplomats from Moscow and four from St Petersburg, he said. 
It also suggested banning US diplomats from their dachas in Serebryany Bor near Moscow and a warehouse on Moscow's Dorozhnaya Street.