President Vladimir Putin has announced his resignation from the presidency of Russia, a move that follows the country’s decision to annex Crimea.
The move has triggered a new round of geopolitical tensions between Russia and the United States.
According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Putin has resigned in order to ensure the “security of the Russian Federation, and to give the opportunity for a smooth transition in power to the new leadership.”
Putin is scheduled to meet with Putin’s replacement, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, on December 15.
“This decision is taken on the basis of the grave security situation in the region, which is not conducive to the exercise of democratic rights, the rule of law, and freedom of expression,” Zakharov said.
In a separate statement, Russia’s State Duma said Putin will meet with Medvede on December 16 and December 17.
The Kremlin’s decision comes amid growing tensions between the U.S. and Russia, with President Donald Trump saying in a tweet that he was considering whether to move the U,S.
Embassy in Moscow from Tel Aviv to the country.
“Russia’s new leadership will decide whether or not to accept the proposal for the relocation of our embassy to the capital of the newly-formed State of Israel,” Trump tweeted.
“We have been considering this for some time, and I hope it will be accepted!”
The Trump administration has also threatened to pull the U.,S.
embassy from Tel-Aviv, though it is not clear if that threat has been made.
On Friday, the White House said it was considering a move toward a formal withdrawal from the Middle East.
“The United States is considering all options to reduce tensions and reassure allies and partners that we stand united against the threats posed by Iran and the Syrian regime,” White House spokesperson Jason Miller said.
“However, we remain firm in our commitment to the stability of the region.”
“We remain very firm on our position that Iran must be removed from the global stage, and we will continue to work with allies and partner countries to address the challenges posed by the Iranian regime,” Miller added.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea was welcomed by the United Kingdom, which had earlier backed an international diplomatic solution to the crisis, according to the British foreign ministry.
“I think the Russian government’s decision is a major step forward in the efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to this crisis,” said the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.