Russian FM Suggests Expelling U.S. Diplomats

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Russia’s foreign minister has suggested expelling 35 U.S. diplomats in response to a new round of U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

President Barack Obama on Thursday imposed sanctions on Russian officials and intelligence services in retaliation alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, as American political sites and email accounts were hacked. Thirty-five Russian diplomats were ordered to leave the U.S. in 72 hours and two facilities closed.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that the foreign ministry and other agencies have suggested that President Vladimir Putin order expulsion of 31 employees of the U.S. embassy in Moscow and 4 diplomats from the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg. Another suggestion is to bar U.S. diplomats from using their summer retreat on the outskirts of Moscow and a warehouse in the south of Moscow.

The Kremlin spokesman said late Thursday that it would be up to Putin to draft retaliatory measures.

Earlier, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called the U.S. sanctions against his country “anti-Russian death throes.”

When he was president in 2008-2012 Medvedev focused on improving U.S.-Russia ties in what became known as the “reset” policy. He voiced disappointment with the new round of sanctions on Friday.

“It is sad that the Obama administration that began its life by restoring ties ends it with anti-Russian death throes. RIP,” Medvedev said on Twitter.