Russia expelled 60 American diplomats on Thursday and announced it would eject more from other Western countries that have joined London and Washington in expelling Russian diplomats over Moscow’s alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.
"Russia has not unleashed any diplomatic wars," the Kremlin spokesman told reporters on Friday in response to the US State Department's announcement on Thursday that there was "no justification" to Russia's move.
“President Vladimir Putin from the very beginning was and remains a supporter of establishing good relations with all countries, including the United States. Russia has never been the initiator of sanctions or the expulsion of diplomats," Peskov said.
"Russia remains open to mending ties," he said, adding that the country "wants a friendly relationship."
In related news, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned a slew of senior Western diplomats on Friday to set out retaliatory measures it was taking in a standoff with the West over the alleged poisoning of the Skripals.
Embassy officials from France, Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Croatia, Belgium, Ukraine, Sweden, Australia and the Czech Republic were seen arriving in their official cars at the Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement it was summoning the representatives of a “raft of countries that have taken unfriendly action against Russia in solidarity with Britain because of the Skripal incident.
"The envoys will be handed protest notes and told about the Russian side's retaliatory measures," the ministry said, adding that the British embassy in Moscow was given one-month time to cut the number of its diplomats in Russia.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced earlier that the countries that ejected Russian diplomats would have their diplomats sent home proportionately.
Britain, which accuses Russia of carrying out an alleged nerve agent attack on the Skripals, expelled 23 Russian diplomats. Russia, in return, expelled 23 British diplomats.
So far, 24 European countries have announced that they will be expelling 122 Russian diplomats over the coming days. NATO also expelled seven diplomats from Russia's mission to the alliance.
The expulsions are unprecedented since the Cold War era, a term that describes the tense relationship between the US and the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1989. There is now fear of a new Cold War.