Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a New Year's greeting to President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump, despite increasingly tense relations between Washington and Moscow.
Putin tweeted to Obama and Trump on Friday, followed by a longer statement which addressed the breakdown in U.S.-Russia relations.
"We regard the recent unfriendly steps taken by the outgoing US administration as provocative and aimed at further weakening the Russia-US relationship," he said. "This runs contrary to the fundamental interests of both the Russian and American people. Considering the global security responsibilities of Russia and the United States, this is also damaging to international relations as a whole."
Putin also repeated his vow not to retaliate in response to Obama's choice to expel Russian diplomats suspected of being spies.
"The diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year's holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for US diplomats. We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year's holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children's parties in the Kremlin.
"It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family.
"My season's greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people," he added.
"I wish all of you happiness and prosperity."
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