President Vladimir Putin has ruled out the eviction of US envoys after the United States expelled 35 Russian diplomats amid a row over hacking.
Vladimir Putin said Russia would not “stoop” to the level of “irresponsible diplomacy” but would work to restore ties with the US under President-elect Donald Trump.
Russia’s foreign ministry had formally asked President Putin to expel 35 US envoys.
The country denies involvement in hacking related to the US election, calling US sanctions “ungrounded”.
Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev accused the outgoing US administration of President Obama of ending in “anti-Russian death throes”.
President Obama, who will be replaced by Donald Trump on January 20, had vowed action against Russia amid US accusations that it directed cyber-attacks on the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Emails stolen from her campaign manager and from the servers of the DNC – some containing embarrassing information for Democrats – were released during the election campaign.
In a statement on the Kremlin website, President Vladimir Putin said: “We won’t be expelling anyone.
“We won’t be banning their families and children from the places where they usually spend the New Year holidays. Furthermore, I invite all children of American diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas Tree in the Kremlin.”
Vladimir Putin wished Barack Obama and his family a happy New Year, as well as Donald Trump and “the whole American people”.
In a message on the presidential website, Vladimir Putin said that, with the accession of Donald Trump, “the two states, acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner, can take real steps for restoration of mechanisms for bilateral co-operation”.
Donald Trump has dismissed the hacking claims as “ridiculous” and said Americans should “get on with our lives” when asked previously about the possibility of sanctions.
However, the president-elect said on December 29 he would meet US intelligence chiefs next week to be “updated on the facts of this situation”.
Russia’s foreign ministry had reportedly suggested expelling 31 US diplomats from Moscow and four from St Petersburg.
It also suggested banning US diplomats from their dachas (holiday homes) in Serebryany Bor near Moscow and a warehouse on Moscow’s Dorozhnaya Street.
According to Russian media, the Russians facing expulsion from the embassy in Washington are struggling to buy plane tickets because flights are full ahead of the New Year holiday.
They will be forced to travel to New York, where their chances of finding plane seats are better, an “informed source” told Interfax news agency.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has denied a report by CNN that Moscow is shutting down a school attended by diplomats’ children.
Maria Zakharova said it was a “lie” that the Anglo-American School faced closure as retaliation.