Donald Trump’s incoming US administration will face an early test of its approach to Russia after Vladimir Putin declined to engage in tit-for-tat measures over the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, in what appeared to be an overture to the US president-elect. Hours after the Russian foreign minster said he was recommending a symmetrical response, Putin said his country had every right to make such a move but that he would wait to see how relations developed under Trump. “While we reserve the right to respond, we will not drop to this level of irresponsible diplomacy, and we will take further steps to help resurrect Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of Trump will pursue,” the Russian president said in a statement on the Kremlin website. The statement also wished Obama and his family, Trump and the American people a happy new year and invited “all the children of American diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas celebrations in the Kremlin”. Putin’s pointedly magnanimous intervention came after a day in which Russian officials launched increasingly angry invective at Barack Obama and his administration. On Thursday, the Obama administration announced a package of measures targeting Russia in retaliation for cyber-attacks US intelligence agencies believe were directed by Moscow to help Trump get elected. Russian officials have repeatedly denied the claims.
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Newsline: Russia won’t expel US diplomats