Sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry say Moscow may finally expel some 30 American diplomats in retaliation for a similar measure adopted in the previous US administration.
In a report published on Tuesday , the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia quoted officials as saying that if the US does not correct a decision by former President Barack Obama on expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and seizure of Russia’s diplomatic compounds, Russia could retaliate in the foreseeable future.
Russia refrained from a direct response to the measure as it came in Obama’s final months in office while everyone was expecting to see how new president Donald Trump may deal with the case. The issue was raised in a recent meeting between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin, but Russian sources told Izvestia that Trump presented “no plan to resolve the crisis”.
The expulsions and seizure of Russian property in the United States came after reports emerged of an alleged support by the Kremlin for hackers that tampered with the computers of the camp of US presidential election candidate Hillary Clinton, a move that was thought to have hugely undermined the chances of the Democratic Party candidate and propelled Trump to the White House. Obama also imposed new rounds of sanctions on Russian individuals and entities, piling more pressure on a government in Moscow, which had already been slapped with bans and boycotts over the crisis in Ukraine.
Trump has explicitly endorsed the idea that Russian hackers may have played a role in last year’s presidential election but have categorically denied any direct collusion between members of his campaign and Russian officials. The issue is still being investigated and any decision by Trump to roll back the sanctions or return the Russian property in New York and Maryland may further complicate the issue.