Trump Praises Putin for Restraint in U.S.-Russia Spy Dispute

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Donald Trump in North Charleston, South Carolina, on September 23, 2015. Hamilton Fish writes that living with a president with narcissistic personality disorder may make America liberal again. Randall Hill/reuters

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for refraining from retaliation in a dispute over spying and cyber attacks, in another sign that the Republican plans to patch up badly frayed relations with Moscow.

Putin earlier on Friday said he would not hit back for the U.S. expulsion of 35 suspected Russian spies by President Barack Obama, at least until Trump takes office on Jan. 20.

"Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Obama on Thursday ordered the expulsion of the Russians and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over their involvement in hacking political groups in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

"We will not expel anyone," Putin said in a statement, adding that Russia reserved the right to retaliate.

"Further steps towards the restoration of Russian-Americanrelations will be built on the basis of the policy which the administration of President D. Trump will carry out," he said.

Trump has repeatedly praised Putin and nominated people seen as friendly toward Moscow to senior administration posts, but it is unclear whether he would seek to roll back Obama's actions, which mark a post-Cold War low in U.S.-Russian ties.

Trump has brushed aside allegations from the CIA and otherintelligence agencies that Russia was behind the cyber attacks."It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things," Trump said on Thursday, though he said he would meet with intelligence officials next week.

U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia was behind hacks intoDemocratic Party organizations and operatives before the presidential election. Moscow denies this. U.S. intelligence officials say the Russian cyber attacks aimed to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Russian officials have portrayed the sanctions as a last act of a lame-duck president and suggested Trump could reverse them when he takes over from Obama, a Democrat.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the Obama administration "a group of embittered and dim wittedforeign policy losers."

Should Trump seek to heal the rift with Russia, he might encounter opposition in Congress, including from fellow Republicans.

Republican John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on foreign cyber threats. Other senior Republicans, as well as Democrats, have urged a tough response to Moscow.

A total of 96 Russians are expected to leave the United States including expelled diplomats and their families.

Movement at Compounds

As part of the sanctions, Obama told Russia to close two compounds in New York and Maryland that the administration said were used by Russian personnel for "intelligence-related purposes."

In both locations, the Russians were given until noon on Friday to vacate the premises. Convoys of trucks, buses and black sedans with diplomatic license plates exited without incident.

In Maryland, some passengers smiled and waved as they rode away.

A former Russian Foreign Ministry employee toldReuters that the facility in Maryland was a dacha used bydiplomatic staff and their children. The 45-acre complex includes a Georgian-style brick mansion, swimming pool, tennis courts and cottages for embassy staff.

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said the closures showed the U.S. government lacked family values.

"I think it's quite scandalous that they chose to go after our kids, you know? They know full well that those two facilities ... they're vacation facilities for our kids. And this is Christmas time," he told reporters.

Putin said he was inviting all children of American diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas party in the Kremlin.

In a separate message of New Year congratulations to Trump,Putin said Russia-U.S. relations were an important factor for maintaining global safety and stability.

Obama had promised consequences after U.S. intelligence officials blamed Russia for hacks intended to influence the 2016 election. Officials accused Putin of personally directing the efforts and primarily targeting Democrats.

Washington also put sanctions on two Russian intelligenceagencies, the GRU and the FSB, four GRU officers and three companies that Obama said "provided material support to the GRU's cyber operations."

Trump Praises Putin for Restraint in U.S.-Russia Spy Dispute | U.S.