NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — President-elect Donald Trump on Friday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for holding off on retaliation for new sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for its alleged interference in the U.S. election.
“He’ll receive an intelligence briefing this coming week, and in the meantime he believes it is time to move on,” said Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway.
Putin on Friday condemned a new round of U.S. sanctions against Russia. But he said Moscow would not retaliate by expelling American diplomats.
Trump has been slow to criticize Putin and has questioned U.S. intelligence linking Russia to campaign hacks.
Putin, for his part, is apparently looking for a more friendly administration down the road with Trump.
“He’s doing everything in his power to say, ‘I’m forgetting Barack Obama; I’m moving on to the next guy,” said David Sanger of the New York Times.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, the tweets come after a luxury retreat on Long Island and one in Maryland, where Russian diplomats have gone for decades, were shut down by the Obama administration in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged cyber-meddling in the presidential election.
The U.S. said the two Cold War-era estates were being used for intelligence activities.
About a half-hour before the noon deadline, caravans of diplomatic vehicles, some carrying boxes, left both Russian compounds under the watch of U.S. State Department agents.
On Long Island, Elliot Conway, mayor of Upper Brookville, said he has been in contact with the State Department and confirmed that the “Russian compound being shut down is located in Upper Brookville.”
The Gold Coast estate, once called Elmcroft, was purchased by the Soviets in 1950s.
“They’ve been quiet neighbors,” said Conway.
Russian diplomats stay at another grand Long Island estate, the Killenworth mansion, in Glen Cove. It, too, was bought during the Cold War.
But Glen Cove Mayor Reggie Spinello said Friday that Killenworth was not being closed down by the government.
“For years, it’s basically been a facility just for the caretakers. They take care of the facility,” Spinello said. “The people there use our beaches, our parks. They are very quiet people, they fly under the radar.”
The 45-acre Maryland retreat boasts a brick mansion along the Corsica River in the bucolic Eastern Shore region. Reports indicate it was bought by the Soviet Union in 1972 and served as a getaway for its diplomats in nearby Washington.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters at U.N. headquarters that the Obama administration was destroying holiday fun for the children of Russian diplomats.
“I think it’s quite scandalous that they chose to throw out our kids,” he said. “They know full well that those two facilities they mentioned, they are vacation facilities for our kids and this is Christmas, and this is vacation time for our schools. This is the time when the kids go to those facilities. So to close our access to them just while those holidays were starting, to me was rather silly.”
The closing of the compounds, ordered by the White House, may be a symbolic move, but it’s meant to send a strong message.
“It’s outside the norms of international behavior and the president wanted to make sure that they cut it out,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.
The State Department also has kicked out 35 Russian diplomats from its embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco, giving them and their families 72 hours to leave the U.S. The diplomats were declared persona non grata for acting in a “manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status.”
“All their credentials will be revoked so they won’t be able to, they’ll have no diplomatic immunity here,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.
The sanctions are punishment for what U.S. officials say was Russia’s attempt to influence the U.S. presidential election with cyberattacks.
The move came after repeated public and private warnings, according to President Obama.
“He’s going to do some things overtly, which you see today, and he’s going to do some things covertly, which you don’t see,” said U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.)
On Thursday, the White House released a joint Homeland Security, FBI report on the hacking, identifying two Russian intelligence agencies, three companies and multiple people who they believe helped in the attacks.
U.S. officials say one of those men, Evgeniy Bogachev, stole more than $100,000 million dollars from U.S. entities.
The White House believes Russia tried to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign by hacking into the emails of Democratic party officials and then leaking sensitive information.
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” President Barack Obama said in part in a statement. “In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance.”
The move by Obama received bi-partisan support.
“These sanctions and this expelling of Russian operatives sends a strong signal,” said U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). “I wish the president had done this a year ago, maybe two years ago.”
Incoming U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said in part, “We need to punch back and punch back hard.”
Russian expert Clifford Kupchan says he doesn’t believe the sanctions will stop the Russians from future cyber attacks.
“Russian attempts to undermine western democracies are going to be a problem with us for a very long time,” he said.
Russian officials have denied the Obama administration’s accusation that the Russian government was trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.
Trump said the U.S. should move on, but in a sign he was no longer totally brushing off the allegations, he said he planned to meet with U.S. intelligence leaders next week to learn more.
Putin, in a statement the Kremlin’s website, referred the sanctions as a “provocation aimed to further undermine Russian-American relations.”
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in televised remarks earlier Friday that the foreign ministry and other agencies have suggested that 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.
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