President Vladimir Putin has issued a surprising reaction to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from US on Thursday over alleged interference in the US election.
Reports had it that Russia was planning to retaliate but on Friday, Putin said Moscow would not expel any US diplomats.
He said: “We will not create problems for American diplomats. We will not expel anyone”.
In his statement, he invited “all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia… to the New Year’s and Christmas party in the Kremlin.”
Indicating that the ball was in the court of the next US administration, Putin said however that Moscow reserved the right to retaliate after Washington’s decision to expel 35 diplomats, who have 72 hours to leave the country.
“According to international practice, Russia has all the grounds for a comparable response,” Putin announced, following a statement by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov which suggested a tit-for-tat response was in the works.
“Reserving the right to retaliatory measures, we… will be planning our next steps in restoring US-Russian relations based on the policies pursued by the administration of President Donald Trump,” Putin added.
“Russian diplomats returning to the motherland will spend their holidays with friends and family, at home,” Putin said.