Trump praises Putin as ‘very smart’ after Moscow holds off retaliatory actions

Washington: US President-elect Donald Trump on Friday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as “very smart” for holding off on retaliatory actions after Obama administration’s new sanctions.

“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart,” Xinhua news agency quoted Trump as saying in a tweet.

Putin said on Friday that Russia will not expel anyone despite Washington’s latest sanctions, according to the Kremlin press service.

“We will not create problems for American diplomats. We will not expel anyone,” Putin said in a statement.

Three weeks before leaving office, US President Barack Obama on Thursday struck back at Russia over alleged election hacking.

Nine Russian entities and individuals, including two Russian intelligence services, were sanctioned for their alleged interfering with the US election, Obama said in a statement.

In addition, the US State Department on Thursday announced ejection of 35 Russian government officials from the United States, calling them “acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status.”

Two Russian government-owned compounds, one in US State of Maryland and one in New York, would also soon be shuttered, according to the State Department.

Putin regretted that Obama was finishing his term by imposing new sanctions against Moscow, saying that Moscow considered new unfriendly steps of the outgoing US administration a “provocation aimed at further undermining the Russia-US relations.”