After laying down sanctions and kicking Russian diplomats out of the U.S., President Obama’s actions have incurred an uncommon calculated response from the Kremlin. Russian President Vladimir Putin, against standard methods, did not retaliate “in kind” to the punishment dealt by Obama. It was widely assumed Russia would expel U.S. diplomats, especially given comments made by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a statement today:
“Therefore, the Russian Foreign Ministry and colleagues from other agencies have submitted a proposal to the President of Russia to declare “persona non grata” 31 diplomats from the US Embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the US Consulate General in St Petersburg. Furthermore, we have proposed shutting down the US dacha (recreation facility) in Serebryanny Bor and the US Embassy warehouse on Dorozhnaya Street. We hope these proposals will be considered as a priority.”
Going against the input of his officials, Putin decided to ignore the lame duck Administration and “plan” for the Trump Presidency instead of engaging in “irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy” and using “the right to retaliate.”
President-Elect Trump weighed in on the situation encouraging the need for the “country to move on” but insisted he would, in the interest of the American people, be “updated on the facts” by intelligence officials.
This statement should not send shockwaves through Washington since Trump has long been skeptical of Russia hacking the U.S. Election process. Until Trump takes office January 20th, it may not be known how the President-Elect will handle the Russian cyber hostility. Reviewing Putin’s course of action, it is probable Putin thinks Trump might lighten the Obama punishment.