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Iran Press TV

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov proposes expulsion of 35 US diplomats

Iran Press TV

Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:27AM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he has proposed to President Vladimir Putin to expel 35 US diplomats in retaliation for a similar move by Washington.

"Russia's Foreign Ministry... has requested that the Russian president approve declaring as personae non grata 31 employees of the US embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the US consulate in Saint Petersburg," Lavrov said in televised comments.

The ministry is also seeking to ban diplomats from using a holiday home located in western Moscow and a warehouse in the north of the city, Lavrov said, after President Barack Obama said the US would close two Russian compounds.

Lavrov said the two Russian country houses in New York and Maryland were used for children's holidays and ridiculed the notion they were "nests of spies."

"We of course cannot leave these stunts unanswered. Reciprocity is the law in diplomacy and international relations," he said, hoping that Putin approves the requests "promptly."

Obama had on Thursday ordered a series of new sanctions against Russia and ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, accusing them of being suspected spies.

The US president had also imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over allegations that they interfered in the 2016 presidential election in the US through cyberattacks.

In the remarks reported on Friday, Lavrov rejected the hacking accusations and said the sanctions would not go unanswered.

Ties between the Obama administration and the Kremlin have considerably worsened over the past months but he will be in office for only several more weeks.

The incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump is likely to introduce a different attitude to ties with Moscow. Trump has formerly praised Putin and has been critical of the outgoing US administration's anti-Russia stance, including most recently of the new sanctions.

The Obama administration has suggested that the alleged Russian cyberattacks had been meant to tilt the election in Trump's favor. On Thursday, Trump wrote on his Twitter page that it was time to "move on" from the claims of Russian hacking.

Medvedev's lament for Obama administration

In Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev regretted the new US sanctions.

Writing on his official Facebook page on Friday, Medvedev said Obama was ending his term in "anti-Russia agony."

"It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia agony. RIP," Medvedev wrote.

'Against international law'

Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the US sanctions as "groundless and illegal from the point of view of international law."

Peskov said on Thursday that Kremlin would consider "adequate" counter measures "based on the principles of reciprocity."

"Such steps by a US administration that has three weeks left to work are aimed at two things: to further harm Russian-American ties, which are at a low point as it is, as well as, obviously, to deal a blow to the foreign policy plans of the incoming administration of the president-elect," referring to Trump.

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