Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin are forcing Donald Trump to pick sides: undo sanctions the U.S. just imposed on Russia for hacking e-mails before last month’s election or set aside a campaign vow to improve relations with Moscow.

Hours after the U.S. president imposed new penalties for alleged Russian hacking and ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian operatives Thursday, President-elect Trump issued a terse statement suggesting he was still deciding how to respond. Then Russia’s President Putin further complicated matters Friday, saying he wouldn’t expel American diplomats in the usual tit-for-tat retaliation because he was waiting for Trump to take office.

While the sanctions and expulsions, imposed by executive order, can be undone with the stroke of a pen, Trump may find it politically difficult to do so, as key Republicans in Congress expressed support for Obama’s move. U.S. intelligence agencies also issued a report Thursday on their evidence that Russia was behind the hacking that produced a stream of leaks damaging Trump’s campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton.

‘Move On’

“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in his statement Thursday. “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."

Russia repeated its denial of any role in the cyberattacks, and Putin said in a statement from the Kremlin that his country wouldn’t “send anyone away.” That appears to be an invitation -- and a challenge -- for Trump to make good on promises to patch up ties with Russia that have soured badly in the final years of the Obama administration.

Obama’s moves “likely will box in the Trump administration, if not legally then certainly politically, because it’s going to be hard for the administration to come in and say on day one all the reports were untrue, the FBI was wrong, the CIA was wrong,” said Eric Lorber, a senior adviser at the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It will be difficult for the incoming administration to make that argument to the American people and say the sanctions should be completely done away with."

Obama aides were quick to point out how awkward such a reversal would be.

“If a future president wants to welcome a large tranche of Russian intelligence officials into the United States, he could do so, but we don’t think that makes much sense,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in an e-mail. “If a future administration wants to lift sanctions against senior Russian intelligence units to make it easier for them to engage in malicious cyberactivity, they could do so, but we don’t think that would make much sense.”

Equally significant, top Republican lawmakers expressed as much determination as Democrats to investigate Russia’s role in the hacking, and some called for even tougher sanctions against Putin’s government.

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