The Russian Foreign Ministry has suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin expel 35 U.S. diplomats in response to Washington’s decision to expel 35 Russians on Thursday due to the Kremlin’s alleged involvement in hacking during the U.S. presidential election, TASS reported.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has compiled a list of 31 U.S. Embassy employees in Moscow and four employees of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg who it recommends be expelled from Russia.
"We, of course, cannot leave unanswered the insults of the kind, reciprocity is the law of diplomacy and foreign relations," Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov said. "Thus, the Russian Foreign Ministry and officials of other authorities have suggested that the Russian president announce 31 personnel of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the Consulate General in St. Petersburg persona non-grata."
Lavrov once again denied that Russia attempted to interfere in the U.S. presidential elections.
"The outgoing U.S. administration of Barack Obama accusing Russia of all mortal sins, trying to blame us for the failure of its foreign policy initiatives, among other things, has put forward additional accusations without any grounds whatsoever that the Russian state was behind attempts to meddle in the U.S. election campaign, which led to the defeat of the democratic candidate," Lavrov said.
"Yesterday, the U.S. administration, without providing any facts or evidence announced a new wave of sanctions against the Russian Federation. Russia’s Federal Security Service [FSB], some other Russian agencies and individuals were sanctioned. The sanctions also covered our diplomats. Thirty-five people working in Washington and San Francisco have to leave the U.S. before the end of the day on January 1."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has called the U.S. expulsion of Russian diplomats “a manifestation of aggression.”