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MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has ruled out a tit-for-tat response after the US expelled 35 Russian diplomats amid a row over hacking.

Putin said Russia would not “stoop” to the level of “irresponsible diplomacy” but would work to restore ties with the US under President-elect Donald Trump.

Russia’s foreign ministry had on Friday formally asked Mr. Putin to expel 35 US envoys.

The country denies involvement in hacking related to the US election, calling US sanctions “ungrounded”.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday recommended that the Kremlin expel 35 US diplomats from Russia in response to sanctions announced by Washington, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Lavrov described America’s actions as “stunts” and dismissed the notion that two Russian compounds in the US that are to be shut down are “nests of spies”.

He said the foreign ministry has requested that President Vladimir Putin declare 31 employees of the US embassy in Moscow and four diplomats at its consulate in St Petersburg as “persona non grata”.

The US on Thursday ordered officials at the Russian embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco to leave the country within 72 hours.

Its measures also included sanctions against Russia’s GRU and FSB intelligence services and the release of FBI wanted posters of alleged Russian hackers.

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President Barack Obama took action after Russia was blamed for cyber attacks that disrupted the US presidential election and was also accused of harassing US diplomats.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday accused the Obama administration of ending its term in office “in anti-Russian agony.”

Posting on his official Twitter and Facebook accounts, Medvedev said, “Sadly, the Obama administration, which began its life with the restoration of cooperation, ends it in anti-Russian agony. RIP.”

Russia had warned that the US measures could “destroy” relations between the two countries and unleashed a barrage of colourful rhetoric.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called them the “anti-Russian death throes” of the outgoing leadership.

‘Bull in a China shop’

The steps taken by President Barack Obama on Thursday mark a new low in what have become increasingly frosty relations between Russia and the United States.
The Obama administration described Russia’s actions as “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” and sanctioned four Russian individuals and five Russian entities for what it said was election interference.
“Russia’s cyberactivities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in US democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the US government,” a White House statement said. “These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

But plans for retaliation are complicated by the imminent arrival in the Oval Office of Donald Trump – who has adopted a much less hostile tone on Russia.

Mr. Trump, who has been dismissive about the hacking claims against Russia, issued a statement saying it was “time for our country to move on to bigger and better things”.

However, he said he would meet intelligence officials next week to be “updated on the facts”.

Mr. Trump will be able to reverse Mr Obama’s actions when he takes office, should he wish.

The Kremlin has said that, with Obama only in office for three more weeks, it would refrain from acting like a “bull in a china shop”.

President Obama said in a statement announcing the measures against Russia that they were a “necessary and appropriate response” after repeated warnings to Russia over “efforts to harm US interests”.

He said the alleged hacking “could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government”, adding: “All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions.”

Source: CNN, RT