On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will not expel 35 U.S. diplomats in response to new U.S. sanctions, as was recommended by Russia's foreign ministry. Instead, Putin said he will wait and see what President-elect Donald Trump does when he takes office before deciding what steps to take.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had suggested removing 31 members of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and four from the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg. The proposal was a clear tit-for-tat response, as it came just a day after President Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, the closure of two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland, and the issuance of sanctions against Russian individuals and entities believed to be involved in cyber attacks ahead of the U.S. presidential election.
The White House said the responses to Russia's "significant malicious cyber-enabled activities" were intended to indicate such meddling is "unacceptable and will not be tolerated." Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the Obama administration's response proof that they are "a group of foreign policy losers, embittered and short-sighted."
Russia has repeatedly denied its involvement in the hacking of various Democratic organizations and officials, despite both the FBI and the CIA finding evidence that Russia interfered to help Trump.