Vladimir the merciful?
Following this morning's reports that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would recommend to Russian President Vladimir Putin a retaliation in kind, and expel 35 American diplomats, saying that “we cannot leave such acts unanswered. Reciprocity is part of diplomatic law" with Putin spokesman Peskov adding that "there is no doubt that Russia's adequate and mirror response will make Washington officials feel very uncomfortable as well", it was ultimately up to Putin to decide how to respond to the US.
Which he did on Friday morning, when in a stunning reversal, the Russian leader took the high road, rejected the Lavrov proposal, and in a statement posted by the Kremlin said that Russia won’t expel any Americans in retaliation to US moves, in a brutal demonstration of just how irrelevant Obama's 11th hour decision is for US-Russian relations.
The reversal comes as Russian officials portrayed U.S. sanctions as a last act of a lame-duck president and suggested that Trump could reverse them when he takes over the White House in January.
President Obama expels 35 ???????? diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl ???????? people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm. pic.twitter.com/mleqA16H8D— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 29, 2016
Earlier Russian Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev said the Obama administration was ending its term in "anti-Russia death throes."
"It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia death throes. RIP," Medvedev, who served as president in 2009 when Obama tried to improve Russia-U.S. relations, wrote on his official Facebook page.
In the just released statement, Putin laughed off Obama's 11th hour temper tantrum, and said that Russia won’t cause problems to U.S. diplomats or deport anyone, adding that Russia has the right to respond in tit-for-tat manner, but it will not engage in irresponsible diplomacy.
The punchline, however, was saved for what may be Russia's final slam of the debacle that is Obama's administration saying that "It’s a pity that the current U.S. administration is finishing their work in such a manner" saying that Russia refuses "to sink to the level of this irresponsible "kitchen" diplomacy."
Putin ended the statement by congratulating U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, and the American people on the New Year and invited the hildren of US diplomats to a holiday celebration at the Kremlin.
From the full statement posted on the Kremlin website:
Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.
And with that one statement, Obama lost the diplomatic war with Russia.
In other news, the Kremlin said it will send a government plane to the US to evacuate the expelled diplomats and their family members. Earlier, there were reports that the diplomats were having problems buying tickets on such short notice, with airlines already booked by New Year’s travelers.
* * *
Full Putin statement below:
We regard the recent unfriendly steps taken by the outgoing US administration as provocative and aimed at further weakening the Russia-US relationship. This runs contrary to the fundamental interests of both the Russian and American people. Considering the global security responsibilities of Russia and the United States, this is also damaging to international relations as a whole.
As it proceeds from international practice, Russia has reasons to respond in kind. Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.
The diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year’s holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for US diplomats. We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year’s holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children’s parties in the Kremlin.
It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family.
My season’s greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people.
I wish all of you happiness and prosperity.