Trump praises Putin for decision to not expel diplomats

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin castigated the United States on Friday for trying to punish Russia but said his country will not immediately retaliate and instead will wait for a new U.S. approach by Donald Trump. The president-elect praised Putin’s move and called him “very smart.”


Putin said no U.S. diplomats will be ousted in retaliation for President Barack Obama’s decision to impose sanctions and expel Russian diplomats over allegations of Russian meddling in the American presidential election. The Russian leader said he reserves the right to hit back in the future, but suggested it will be unnecessary because he expects to work with Trump’s administration to improve U.S.-Russia ties.

Still, Putin called Obama’s move a “provocation aimed at further undermining Russian-American relations” less than a month before Trump takes office. In addition to sanctions targeting Russian spy agencies, the U.S. kicked 35 Russian diplomats out of the U.S. and said they were spies.

Trump’s reaction, as it often does, came via Twitter. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin),” Trump tweeted. “I always knew he was very smart!”

He pinned the tweet to the top of his Twitter page so that it would remain there prominently and indefinitely even after other tweets are sent.

The move by the incoming president to side with a foreign adversary over the sitting president was a dramatic departure from typical diplomatic practice, further fueling the burgeoning controversy over what the Obama administration says was a cyberattack against America’s…

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