Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he will not kick out American diplomats in response to U.S. sanctions, and will instead wait to work with President-elect Donald Trump.
Russian officials responded angrily to measures meant to punish its intelligence services for interfering in the U.S. election, with the country's foreign minister saying it may mirror the U.S. tit-for-tat.
Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov said that he has offered to President Vladimir Putin to kick out 31 employees at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and four from the consulate in St. Petersburg.
The proposed move came a day after 35 Russian diplomats were declared “persona non grata” by the U.S. and said to be “intelligence operatives" believed to be connected to the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails released through Wikileaks in July
The U.S. also imposed sanctions on the KGB’s successor FSB and Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency and said that Russian-owned compounds in Maryland and on Long Island would be closed because they were being used for intelligence purposes.
Lavrov, who along with Putin has denied claims of meddling in the U.S. elections to favor Donald Trump, said that the properties were used for children’s camps,His proposed measures also including blocking Americans’ access to a U.S. summer house and a warehouse near Moscow.
Putin said in a statement to RIA Novosti on Friday, however, that no American diplomats would be sent packing.
The former KGB agent said that the Obama sanctions were a "provocation" detrimental to global security and cooperation, but that work to repair U.S.-Russian relations, at their lowest point in decades, would happen with Trump.
Russian officials originally responded to Thursday's sanctions by calling the Obama administration "foreign policy losers" and suggesting that the sanctions were meant to hamper Trump, who has praised Putin and called for Russia to hack opponent Hillary Clinton's emails.
Trump said in a statement Thursday that "It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things" but said that he would meet with intelligence officials about the matter next week.