MOSCOW: Russia on Friday announced plans to expel 35 US diplomats and ban US diplomatic staff from using a dacha and a warehouse in Moscow in retaliation to Washington’s sanctions, Russian news agencies reported.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by the agencies as saying he had proposed the measures to President Vladimir Putin.
President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over their involvement in hacking US political groups in the 2016 presidential election.
Lavrov said Russia would not leave the sanctions unanswered and said that allegations that Russia interfered in US elections were baseless.
The US measures, taken during the last days of Obama’s presidency, marked a new post-Cold War low in US-Russian ties and set up a potential flashpoint between incoming President-elect Donald Trump and fellow Republicans in Congress over how to deal with Moscow.
Obama, a Democrat, had promised consequences after US intelligence officials blamed Russia for hacks intended to influence the 2016 election. Officials pointed the finger directly at Putin for personally directing the efforts and primarily targeting Democrats, who put pressure on Obama to respond.
“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 US interests in violation of established international norms of behaviour,” Obama said in a statement from Hawaii, where he is on vacation.