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Putin Avoids Escalation, Awaits Trump’s Policy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk into a photo opportunity before their meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Moscow, Washington- Contrary to all expectations, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin chose on Friday to self-restrain facing the last measures taken by outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama.

Putin rejected to expel American diplomats in response to a similar move by the U.S.

On Thursday, Obama sanctioned nine entities and individuals and declared 35 diplomats as “persona non grata,” in the wake of Moscow’s intervention in the U.S. presidential elections.

However, Russia’s president said in a statement published by the Kremlin: “We reserve the right to retaliate, but we will not sink to the level of this irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy. We will take further moves on restoring Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of President-elect Donald Trump adopts.”

On Friday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had suggested that the Kremlin expels 35 American diplomats and evicts Americans in Russia in response to Obama’s decision to close two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland that were used by Russian personnel for “intelligence-related purposes.” Washington gave the Russians 72 hours to leave the United States.

President-elect Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Friday that he would discuss with intelligence officials later next week the official reports and confidential information obtained by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) concerning the issue.

“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” he said.

Unexpectedly, Trump tried to postpone his clear views concerning relations with Russia by saying he would now focus on two basic principles: employ Americans and promote American-made products outside the U.S.

It is clear from Trump’s comments that on taking office in January, the president-elect might keep the economic sanctions against Russia if those would serve American-made products. However, Trump’s comments kept vague the issue of expelling the Russian diplomats.

Therefore, the Obama sanctions against Russia would create a split between the Republican Party and Trump, who counts on good relations with President Putin.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, a leading Republican official, said on Thursday he supported the measures taken against Russia, but said the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration on Russia were overdue.

“While today’s action by the administration is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia,” Ryan said in a statement.