Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially responded to U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement Thursday that he was handing down sanctions for Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election.
Obama said 35 Russian diplomats in the U.S. have 72 hours to leave, that two Russian diplomatic buildings have been closed and that new sanctions would be placed on Russia.
Notably, the Russian Embassy in the U.K. responded to that with a “lame duck” meme.
Now, instead of kicking U.S. diplomats out of Russia in retaliation, Putin has said in a statement that while he reserves the right to do so, he will not now “stoop” to that level.
“We will not send anyone away. We will not prohibit their families and children to use for their usual vacation spots in the New Year’s holiday,” Putin also said, before inviting the children of American diplomats to the Kremlin to see the Christmas tree.
Putin appears to have taken the high road to put the ball in President-elect Donald Trump’s court, chess grandmaster and writer Garry Kasparov suggested.
“It is a pity that the President Obama administration finishes its work this way, but, nevertheless, I congratulate him and his family a Happy New Year,” Putin said.
Russian spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Obama Administration is “not an administration” but “a group of foreign policy losers, angry and ignorant.”