Obama vs Putin Russia moves to expel 35 US diplomats: foreign minister

Lavrov said the two Russian country houses in New York and Maryland were used for children's holidays and ridiculed the notion they were "nests of spies."

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference in Moscow on December 20, 2016 play

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference in Moscow on December 20, 2016

(AFP/File)
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Russia's foreign ministry has requested President Vladimir Putin turf out 35 American diplomats from the country in a tit-for-tat response to a similar move by Washington over hacking allegations, Moscow's top diplomat said Friday.

"Russia's foreign ministry... has requested that the Russian president approve declaring as personae non gratae 31 employees of the US embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the US consulate in Saint Petersburg," Lavrov said in televised comments.

The ministry is also seeking to ban diplomats from using a holiday home located in western Moscow and a warehouse in the north of the city, Lavrov said, after President Barack Obama said the US would close two Russian compounds.

Lavrov said the two Russian country houses in New York and Maryland were used for children's holidays and ridiculed the notion they were "nests of spies."

"We of course cannot leave these stunts unanswered. Reciprocity is the law in diplomacy and international relations," he said, hoping that Putin approves the requests "promptly."

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