Russian Federation orders United States to cut diplomatic staff

U.S.-Russia merchandise trade since 1997

U.S.-Russia merchandise trade since 1997

Russia gave the United States until September 1 to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the number of Russian diplomats left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December because of the alleged election hacking.

The White House has revealed Donald Trump will sign financial sanctions against Russian Federation which will bar him from easing the penalties.

Russia's foreign ministry on Friday announced counter measures in response to tough new sanctions proposed by the United States, ordering Washington to reduce its diplomatic staff.

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Many Russian politicians believe Trump's political opponents and congress have successfully reduced the USA president's room for manoeuvre on Russia to nearly nil.

Starting on August 1, Russian Federation will also block access to a warehouse in Moscow and to a bucolic site along the Moscow River where staff members walk their dogs and hold barbecues. It is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.

Referring to the vote by Congress to toughen the sanctions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "This yet again attests to the extreme aggressiveness of the United States when it comes to worldwide affairs".

European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein said Friday that European officials "will be watching how this process unfolds and then, of course, we'll be watching equally attentively how this law, . if and when it enters into force, will be applied in practice".

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On Wednesday, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency that the latest United States sanctions move left no room to improve ties between Moscow and Washington in the near future and took the relationship into uncharted waters.

The new package of sanctions aims to hit President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle by targeting alleged corrupt officials, human rights abusers and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.

The first sanctions were put in place under previous President Barack Obama in the wake of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 by Russian Federation, for violating the territorial integrity of neighboring Ukraine. He added that he hoped potential future U.S. -Russia cooperation would make the sanctions unnecessary at some point.

"This kind of blackmail aimed at restricting the cooperation between Russian Federation and other nations is a threat for many countries and global businesses", the statement said.

But the Kremlin's hopes for better relations under Trump haven't materialized as the probes of alleged Russian meddling in the US vote have widened in recent months.

Putin, at a news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, also spoke about former President Barack Obama's order last December to seize Russian diplomatic property in the United States and to expel 35 Russian diplomats.

The bill - which also includes measures targeting North Korea and Iran - is created to restrict Trump's ability to lift punitive measures on Moscow.

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