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The New Arab

Russia responds as US hacking scandal escalates

Washington has dismissed 35 Russian diplomats from the United States [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 December, 2016

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Russia will not expel US diplomats but has hit out strongly at Washington's accusations that Moscow interfered in last month's presidential election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that US officials will not be expelled from the country, only hours after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for 35 US diplomats to be kicked out.

But Putin has warned Washington over its accusations that Moscow interfered in the US elections, which led to the US expelling a number of Russian diplomats.

"Reserving the right to retaliatory measures, we... will be planning our next steps in restoring the US-Russian relations based on the policies pursued by the administration of president Donald Trump," Putin said in a statement released by the Kremlin.

It comes in response to Washington's ultimatum on Thursday that 35 Russian diplomats 72 hours to leave the US, having also identified two compounds in New York and Maryland alleged to have been used by Russian intelligence services.

It follows repeated accusations that Moscow worked to interfere in recent US presidential election, triggering an angry response from Moscow.

The Obama administration accuses Russia of directing cyber-attacks against Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton during her bid to become president.

Numerous emails allegedly from Clinton were leaked during the campaign trail by the Wikileaks website, which dramatically reduced her lead over Donald Trump, which led to the Republican eventually overtaking the Democrat.

Russia has denied any accusations of wrongdoing, describing them as "groundless".

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has accused Barack Obama of ending his presidency in a fit of "anti-Russian death throes".

Moscow previously said that it would respond to the US dismissal of Russian diplomatic staff from American soil "based on the principle of reciprocity".

Analysts remain divided over whether a frosting of diplomatic ties between Moscow and Washington is likely to continue further with current US President Barack Obama set to step down from office in less than a month. 

Both the FBI and CIA concluded that the aim of the alleged Russian hacks was to destabilise the Clinton campaign in favour of Republican candidate Donald Trump. Trump has called for better relations with Moscow, described Putin as a "stronger leader" than Obama.

He also appointed Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson - who has favourable ties with the Kremlin - as his secretary of state.

(Agencies contributed to this report)

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