Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to new sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama by trolling the U.S., even inviting U.S. diplomats to the Kremlin for the holidays.
Putin countermanded a recommendation from his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to expel U.S. diplomats after Obama expelled 35 Russian officials and shut down two Russian compounds Thursday.
The White House also announced a new round of sanctions against Russian intelligence agencies and officials suspected of engaging in the hacking of U.S. political institutions. Putin, however, refused to retaliate.
“We will not create any problems for US diplomats. We will not expel anyone,” said Putin in a statement Friday. “We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year’s holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children’s parties in the Kremlin.”
The Kremlin initially responded to Obama’s new sanctions with a tweet from its United Kingdom embassy, posting a meme that called the administration’s move a “hapless” decision reminiscent of the Cold War.
Obama’s new round of sanctions come in response to an intelligence community investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the recent U.S. election. The resulting report, known as the Joint Analysis Report, corroborated a statement from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and claimed the U.S. intelligence community was confident Russia was involved in the hacks.
Putin remained undeterred by the report and resulting sanctions, noting it was “regrettable that the Obama administration is ending its term in this manner.”
“Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family,” said the Russian leader. “My season’s greeting also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people.”
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