Putin Says Russia Won’t Retaliate Over U.S. Sanctions

(CN) – Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday put to rest suggestions that his country would retaliate for sanctions announced Thursday by the Obama administration.

Speculations swirled after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday called for Putin to boot 35 U.S. diplomats from the country as a response to the Obama administration’s decision to do the same to Russian diplomats as punishment for the country’s attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election through a series of coordinated hacks.

“We will not create problems for U.S. diplomats,” Putin said in a statement translated from the Kremlin’s website. “We will not expel anyone. We will not prohibit their families and children to use their usual vacation spots places in the New Year’s holidays.”

Putin did, however, call the sanctions announced Thursday “unfriendly” and said he is “reserving the right to retaliate.” He said he hopes to be able to rebuild relations between the United States and Russia once President-elect Donald Trump took office.

Putin said it is a “pity” Obama’s time in office will end with these sanctions.

The sanctions the Obama administration announced Thursday are the strongest response yet to allegations that Russia directed a series of hacks in an attempt to influence the November election.

In addition to kicking 35 Russian officials out of the country, the Obama administration also announced sanctions against the two main Russian intelligence agencies as well as three companies that helped the Russian directed hacks and four top officials at the Main Intelligence Directorate, known commonly as the GRU.

It also barred Russian diplomats from two diplomatic compounds, one in Maryland and one in New York, that senior administration officials say served both as recreational spots for diplomats as well as an intelligence purpose.

In conjunction with the announcement of the sanctions, the Department of Homeland Security released a report detailing the operation, which it is calling Grizzly Steppe, showing the technical indicators that identify Russia’s involvement in the hacks.

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