Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to sanctions Friday by ordering the U.S. to cut the number of diplomatic staff in the country by September and seizing two American diplomatic properties.
The retaliation comes one day after the Senate approved sweeping new sanctions against Russia, which still need to be signed by President Trump. As Fox News reports, however, this is not a guarantee as the legislation “bars Trump from easing or waiving the penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees. The economic sanctions also targeted Iran and North Korea.
“This yet again attests to the extreme aggressiveness of the United States when it comes to international affairs,” a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The number of staff is to be reduced to 455, Russia said, which is the same amount of Russian diplomats currently in the U.S.
In December, President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and seized two estates, one on Long Island, N.Y., and one on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, in response to Russia’s meddling in the United States presidential election.
Moscow did not respond at that time, with President Vladimir V. Putin signaling that he was hoping for better relations under the future President Trump. The chances of that happening have largely evaporated.
On Thursday, while expressing annoyance, Mr. Putin said at a news conference in Finland that he would wait to see the final law on the new American sanctions before deciding on a response. But the Senate vote tipped the balance, Mr. Peskov said. (NYT)
The Russian Foreign Ministry further warned that if the U.S. responds to their action with even more expulsions, Russia would match them, the Times reports.
According to Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, the new sanctions cripple any chance of improving relations between the two nations.
“The authors and sponsors of this bill are making a very serious step toward destruction of prospects for normalizing relations with Russia and do not conceal that that’s their target,” Ryabkov said, Russian news agency Itar-Tass reports. Nevertheless, Moscow would continue to be ready to cooperate on mutual concerns such as fighting terrorism.