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Putin Says U.S. Diplomats Won’t Be Expelled Due to Sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected recommendations from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to expel 35 U.S. diplomats from the country.

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“The new unfriendly measures by the US administration are regarded as provocative, designed to further undermine relations,” Putin said in a statement on the Kremlin website. “We will not create problems for American diplomats. We will not expel anyone.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier announced plans to expel 35 U.S. diplomats Friday in response to a similar move by the White House.

Lavrov also recommended Putin shut down two U.S. diplomatic compounds in the country.

“Russia’s foreign ministry … has requested that the Russian president approve declaring as personae non gratae 31 employees of the US embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the US consulate in Saint Petersburg,” Lavrov said in a televised announcement, according to The Telegraph.

Lavrov’s announcement came less than 24 hours after President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Russia for allegedly intervening in the U.S. presidential election.

Obama said 35 Russian diplomats would be expelled and that diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland would be shut down.

“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 U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said in a statement.

Russia has called allegations that they interfered with the election “baseless” and promised a retaliation immediately after Obama’s announcement.

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