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Russia dismisses speculation that it will retaliate against U.S. diplomats

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Russia dismisses speculation that it will retaliate against U.S. diplomats

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he won’t be kicking out U.S. diplomats in response to President Barack Obama’s sanction announcements on Thursday against Russia over alleged hacking during the U.S. presidential campaign and other diplomatic tensions.

Media reports said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had recommended the expulsions to President Vladimir Putin and also announced that U.S. diplomats should be barred from using an embassy vacation house near Moscow, U.K. daily the Guardian reported.

However, in a statement, Putin said none would be expelled, while diplomats and their families would not be barred from using recreational centers in Moscow. He instead invited children of the diplomats to the Kremlin for a New Year’s celebration.

President Obama on Thursday ordered the closure of two Russian diplomatic compounds and barred from the U.S. 35 Russians designated as intelligence operatives, primarily as retaliation against alleged hacking of the U.S. presidential election.

Sourcing a U.S. official with knowledge of the situation, CNN late Thursday said Russia had moved to close down the Anglo-American School of Moscow, used by children of U.S., British and Canadian embassy personnel.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, however, has denied the CNN report, saying it was a “lie” that the school would be shuttered, according to the BBC.

Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in the U.K. expressed its discontent with Obama’s decision, emphasizing in a tweet his administration’s lame-duck status in the final days of his presidency.

President Obama expels 35 🇷🇺 diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl 🇺🇸 people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm. pic.twitter.com/mleqA16H8D

— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 29, 2016