The high-profile US expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, and their removal from a pair of long-standing country homes in Maryland and New York, has fueled an angry response from Russian officials, critical of Obama Administration aggression.
Russian MPs are looking for a quick tit-for-tat move, with top MP Vladimir Dzhabarov telling the state media that he wants quick action against US diplomats stationed in Russia. Kremlin officials, however, were a bit more cautious about making any hasty reactions.
This is in no small part because President Obama is out of office in three weeks, and President-elect Donald Trump has openly talked up improving US-Russian relations when he takes office. The very real possibility that Trump may reverse the measures in a few weeks means there isn’t a big rush to go after US diplomats in the interim.
Obama is presenting the moves primarily as “retaliation” for allegations Russia “hacked” the US presidential campaign that got Trump elected int he first place, an allegation rejected by Trump. Trump has also said it is time to “move on” from such allegations, likely adding to the expectation he’ll reverse diplomatic measures and sanctions.
But Obama has also threatened to carry out cyber-attacks against Russia, and those would be a lot harder for Russia to hold off retaliation on if they begin to show up in a very public manner. Russian intelligence officials say they believe the cyberattacks will target their financial sector.
In the absence of that, however, Russia seems to be in a position to keep parliament placated with a token move, and just wait out the rest and hope for better relations in January.
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