BELGRADE – The CNN is spreading ‘false information’ by reporting that Russia closed the Anglo-American School of Moscow in retaliation to a new set of US sanctions, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
“It’s a lie. It appears the White House has completely lost its mind and is now coming up with sanctions against their own children,” Zakharova commented on the report on her Facebook page.
“The CNN broadcaster and other Western media have again distributed false information citing official US sources,” the spokeswoman added.
The Anglo-American School of Moscow has also denied media speculation, with director Ian Forster writing on Facebook that the “school is planning to open as scheduled following the New Year’s break.”
Earlier, CNN cited an unnamed US official who claimed that the Russian authorities ordered the closure of the Anglo-American School of Moscow, attended by children from the US, UK, and Canadian embassy staffs, and a US Embassy vacation house in Serebryany Bor.
The report was quickly picked up by other Western media outlets, which came up with juicy, Star Wars-style headlines for their stories, including “Russia Strikes Back: Moscow Closes US School in Response to Obama Sanctions,” from ABC, and “Putin fires back by closing American school and embassy vacation home in Moscow…” from the Daily Mail.
The CNN source called the move a direct retaliation to the closure of two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York, which US President Barack Obama announced on Thursday as part of a set of new sanctions against Russian.
According to Obama, the countermeasures were introduced in response to what he called “the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election.”
Thirty-five Russian diplomats have been expelled from the US, and nine Russian entities, including the GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) and the FSB (Federal Security Service), added to Washington’s blacklist.
The facilities in Maryland and New York, located in the coastal area, were used by Russian Embassy staff for recreational purposes. Many diplomats and their families who went there to celebrate New Year’s were forced to leave after the announcement of the sanctions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow will not respond in kind to the US restrictions.
“We won’t cause problems for American diplomats. We’re not going to expel anybody. We won’t forbid their families and kids from using familiar vacation spots during the New Year holidays,” he said.
“Moreover, I invite the children of all American diplomats with accreditation in Russia to New Year’s and Christmas festivities in the Kremlin,” Putin added.
Though the Russian leader expressed regret that President Obama is concluding his term “in such a way,” he added: “I still wish him and his family a Happy New Year.
“I also wish President-elect Donald Trump and the entire American people a Happy New Year!”
According to Putin, Russia will “take further moves on restoring Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of President-elect Donald Trump adopts.”