Putin mocks Obama over sanctions as he invites U.S. diplomats' kids to the Kremlin instead of expelling their parents - and his aides scorn 'angry and shallow brained' political 'corpse'
- Russia's foreign minister had been calling for 35 US diplomats to be banished
- Came after White House's decision to expel 35 Russian diplomats from Moscow
- Putin stepped in to say he would not engage in tit-for-tat politics with the US
- Putin also invited children of any American diplomats in Moscow to celebrate the New Year with him at the Kremlin
- Obama's decision comes in reaction to hacking claims during the US elections
- Russians say they had nothing to do with alleged hacks - and Putin's officials lined up to mock 'political corpse' of the Obama administration
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his rival Barack Obama up to ridicule on Friday by declining to engage in tit-for-tat expulsions - and instead inviting U.S. diplomats' children to the Kremlin to party.
The Russian strongman's actions were accompanied by a fusillade of abuse aimed at Obama from Moscow underlings, who called him a 'political corpse' and said his administration was made up of 'angry and shallow-brained losers'.
Putin had been expected to mirror Obama's decision to expel 35 intelligence agents with Cold War style revenge expulsions.
His foreign minister had called for the measure, but instead Putin - who met the makers of a Russian TV drama about Vikings and posed with a large sword - said he was waiting to deal with Donald Trump.
'We will not create problems for American diplomats. We will not expel anyone,' Putin said in a statement, also inviting children of US diplomats to a holiday party at the Kremlin.
Scroll down for video
Strongman: Putin portrayed himself as being in the driving seat, issuing a statement saying there would be no expulsions while posing with a from a popular Russian TV show about Vikings
Vladimir Putin decided not to tit-for-tat with Barack Obama (right) who expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the US embassy
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (pictured) slammed the outgoing President's team
Television crews assemble outside the Russian embassy on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington
'We evaluate the new unfriendly steps by the outgoing US administration as a provocation aimed at further undermining Russian-American relations.'
He said Moscow would plan its next steps 'based on the policies pursued by the administration of president Donald Trump', while warning that the Kremlin reserves the right to hit back.
Meanwhile the Kremlin foreign minister Sergey Lavrov's official spokesman slammed the Obama administration, calling them a 'group of foreign policy losers, angry and shallow-brained'.
Lavrov had fired back at Barack Obama's decision, suggesting expelling officials and closing down an area used by Americans for their summer retreat on the outskirts of Moscow and a warehouse south of Moscow.
But Putin dismissed the idea, saying he did not want to stop youngsters from being able to use the area.
The apparent decision to over-rule Lavrov is likely to have been orchestrated from the start to emphasize the options open to Moscow, rather than being done as a slap-down from Putin
Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, had suggested the Kremlin should return fire by expelling 35 US diplomats
And Konstantin Kosachev, head of the upper house of the Russian Duma's committee on foreign affairs, was reported by The Observer to have called Obama a 'political corpse'.
'The leaving administration has no reason and no political or moral right for such drastic and disruptive steps with regards to bilateral relations with Russia,' he said.
'Forgive me for being harsh, but I just cannot find other words: this is the agony of not the lame ducks, but of political corpses.'
It was part of an attack which saw the foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claim the US and American people were 'humiliated by their own President' in what she described as the Cold War-style measures against Moscow.
John Kerry, pictured, has been praised by Russia
In a personal onslaught, she claimed Secretary of State John Kerry was not in line with what Moscow sees as draconian measures.
'The most surprising thing is that having failed to add to the history any achievements at the world stage, the Nobel Prize winner managed to make a big inkblot instead of an elegant mark.
'Only Kerry deserves sympathy from this group of spoilers.
'He was not an ally, but he tried to remain professional and to keep his human dignity.'
She claimed: 'His own colleagues were mocking him, cheated on him and did not let him work.
'God save any Secretary of State from what he had to go through.
'Mr Kerry, at this hard moment for the USA let me express my solidarity with you - you have done everything possible in order to prevent foreign policy collapse in your country. '
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also weighed in and called the new round of US sanctions against his country 'anti-Russian death throes'.
When he was president in 2008 to 2012 Medvedev focused on improving US-Russia ties in what became known as the reset policy.
He voiced disappointment with the new round of Obama's sanctions.
'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.
The Russian embassy in the UK also took to social media to react to the spat by tweeting a picture of a ‘lame duck’ with the caption, ‘President Obama expels 35 diplomats in Cold War deja-vu.
'Everybody, including the American people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless administration.’
Maria Zakharova claimed US citizens were let down by the White House, and added: 'Not by international terrorists, not by troops of the enemy.
'This time Washington got a slap in the face from its own master and it increased the urgent agenda of the incoming Donald Trump team to its maximum level.'
Moscow hopes that Trump's arrival next month in the White House will gradually lead to a reset of relations between the two countries.
'That's all, the curtain falls,' she said of the Obama presidency.
'The bad performance is over.
'The whole world, from the stalls to the upper balcony, is watching the smashing blow on American prestige and its leadership made by Barack Obama and his illiterate foreign policy team, that disclosed its top secret to the world - their exceptional nature was a mask for their helplessness.
'No single enemy could do more harm to the USA.'
A senior pro-Putin MP, Irina Yarovaya, a deputy speaker, accused Obama of seeking 'revenge' on US voters who rejected his policies in voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton.
'The outgoing Obama administration's actions increasingly resemble a revenge on US voters and are getting more and more destructive,' she said.
'No matter how many diplomats Obama expels, it's his aggressive and Russophobe policies that were discarded by US citizens,' she said.
'By retiring with a scandal, you only demonstrate your bad manners and admit a total political defeat.'
A senior pro-Putin MP, Irina Yarovaya, a deputy speaker, accused Obama of seeking 'revenge' on US voters who rejected his policies in voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton, who is pictured here making her concession speech having lost the election race to Donald Trump
Putin's government announced on Thursday it was shutting the Anglo-American School of Moscow - a K-12 school chartered by the US, British, and Canadian embassies
About 1,200 students from 60 different countries take classes at the school. Pictured is a visitor conducting a lesson in a classroom with students at the school
Putin's govenrment also denied reports that it would take the dramatic step of closing an Anglo-American day school in Moscow.
Putin's government had been reported by CNN to be shutting the Anglo-American School of Moscow - a K-12 school chartered by the U.S., British, and Canadian embassies.
But Zakharova called the report 'fake news' and 'a lie', writing - according to the TASS news agency on her official Facebook page: 'The CNN TV channel and other Western media have again spread false information citing official American sources.'
It was unclear whether the issue of the school was part of a propaganda smokescreen being thrown up by Moscow in the wake of the expulsions.
Russia continues to deny hacking Democratic emails accounts before the presidential election.
The party's secrets were published online by Wikileaks and DC Leaks before the vote which saw Hillary Clinton defeated by Donald Trump in an upset to what had been predicted as a simple victory for her.
Wikileaks has also denied Russia was the source of the emails, which caused havoc to the Clinton campaign, revealing her own advisers' doubts about her as a candidate, the details of speeches she wanted to keep secret, and how the Democratic National Committee's chair schemed to defeat Bernie Sanders instead of staying neutral.
Clinton claimed after her defeat that Putin ordered hacks out of 'personal beef' to produce the stream of secrets.
Her campaign accuse him of 'putting his thumb on the scale' to get Trump elected.
In contrast the Trump camp has aggressively highlighted Clinton's personal failings as a candidate as the reason for her loss and told the White House to put up evidence that the Kremlin ordered the hacks.
Russian diplomat Dmitry Peskov reiterated on Thursday Russia was not involved in the hacking scandal and told reporters the measures signal Obama's 'unpredictable' and 'aggressive foreign policy.'
'Such steps of the US administration that has three weeks left to work are aimed at two things: to further harm Russian-American ties, which are at a low point as it is, as well as, obviously, deal a blow on the foreign policy plans of the incoming administration of the president-elect,' Peskov said.
Trump himself responded to the sanctions, saying it is 'time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.'
Vladimir Putin is pictured at Russia's General Staff's Main Intelligence Department (GRU) in Moscow on November 8, 2006
It echoes comments he has made publicly and on Twitter since both the CIA and FBI agreed Russia was involved in hacking during the election campaign.
But he added he'll meet with U.S. intelligence officials next week 'in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.'
Kellyanne Conway then questioned whether the sanctions are being put in place to make life difficult for her boss.
'I will tell you that even those who are sympathetic to President Obama on most issues are saying that part of the reason he did this was to quote "box in" President-elect Trump,' Conway said on CNN.
'That would be very unfortunate if politics were the motivating factor here. We can't help but think that's often true.
'All we heard through the election was "Russia, Russia, Russia". Since the election, it's just this fever pitch of accusations and insinuations.'
However, despite Trump's comments, Obama has found allies within the Republican Party who celebrated his move.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the sanctions 'a good initial step, however late in coming.'
He then went on to accuse Obama of allowing Russia to 'expanded its sphere of influence', over the past eight years.
McConnell said: 'The Russians are not our friends,' and is promising that Congress will review accusations that Moscow interfered in the US election.
He added Congress will 'work to ensure that any attack against the United States is met with an overwhelming response'.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham also said sanctions against announced by the Obama administration are 'a small price' for Russia to pay for interfering with US elections, adding they will lead efforts in Congress to impose stronger punishments.
McCain, of Arizona, and Graham, of South Carolina, called Russian cyberattacks on the 2016 election a 'brazen attack on American democracy' and say retaliation measures announced Thursday by Obama are long overdue.
Russian officials have denied the Obama administration's accusations that Putin's government was involved at the highest levels in trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded Russia's goal was to help Donald Trump win - an assessment Trump has dismissed as ridiculous.
Most watched News videos
- Shocking moment passengers watch bucket bomb on fire from platform
- Trump says he'll call May 'right now' over Parsons Green attack
- Emergency services arrive at Parsons Green after explosion
- Laura Simpson sets the record straight on night with Wayne Rooney
- Armed police on scene after explosion at Parsons Green
- Final moments of police stand off with man brandishing fake gun
- Hitman moves child out of the way before shooting target
- South Korea stages missile drill after another launch from North
- Surveillance video shows Kenneka Jenkins stumbling around hotel
- Tomi Lahren gets tricked and insulted by ‘fan’ in Instagram post
- Passengers evacuate from an underground train near Parsons Green
- Friend shares video of Eric Bolling Jr. partying