Russia Orders US to Reduce Diplomatic Staff

Senator Bob Corker arrives for a health care vote on Capitol Hill in Washington

Senator Bob Corker arrives for a health care vote on Capitol Hill in Washington

The U.S. Senate approved a new package of stiff financial sanctions Friday against Russia, Iran and North Korea and sent it to President Donald Trump to sign.

The legislation includes language that bars Trump from easing or waiving the additional penalties on Russian Federation unless Congress agrees. The legislation, which also punishes Iran and North Korea, takes aim at Moscow for meddling in the 2016 USA election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria. A July 17 meeting between US and Russian officials, for example, failed to find a solution to a dispute over the seizure of Russian diplomatic compounds in the United States.

The embassy spokesperson declined to comment on the current number of U.S. diplomats and staff in Russian Federation.

"This means that the total number of personnel involved in the American diplomatic and consular institutions in the Russian Federation is reduced to 455".

Trump has said he believes that Russian Federation was "probably" involved.

Russia had originally threatened the ouster of diplomats and seizure of property in December after the US ordered 35 Russian envoys out of the USA and seized two embassy compounds outside NY and Washington in protest of alleged Russian meddling in the election.

Russian Federation has complained the new sanctions bill "showed with all clarity that relations with Russian Federation have fallen hostage to the domestic political struggle in the US".

But Russia, Lavrov said, is ready to normalize bilateral relations and cooperate on important issues on the global agenda.

It's not the first time the United States has implemented punitive measures against Russian Federation. Reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election have put a damper on hopes for better ties that the Kremlin had pinned on Trump's presidency.

Russian Federation orders United States to cut diplomatic staff
The White House has revealed Donald Trump will sign financial sanctions against Russian Federation which will bar him from easing the penalties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies the charges and objects to the passage of new sanctions against his country.

U.S. President Donald Trump will reportedly sign the legislation into law. Moreover, the new USA sanctions curtail the involvement of US firms and citizens in Russia's energy sector, so additional restrictions would only hurt Russia's economy more.

Russia's Foreign Ministry dismissed the new sanctions as "creating unfair competitive advantages for the US economy".

Trump had privately expressed frustration over Congress' ability to limit or override the power of the president on national security matters, according to Trump administration officials and advisers.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agencies later Friday that he would not rule out further steps, adding that Russia's "toolbox" of how to react to the new sanctions "doesn't come down to" cutting the embassy staff and seizing the recreational retreat. The sanctions also included the closure of two Russian compounds, in Maryland and NY, used for intelligence purposes.

"The United States insistently implements rough anti-Russian sanctions one after another under the absolutely far-fetched pretext of Russian meddling in their internal affairs", the Russian Foreign Ministry stated, adding that such moves violate worldwide law and UN principles.

The White House initially wavered on whether the president would sign the measure into law, but in a statement late on Friday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump had "reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it".

This story has been corrected to reflect that the Lavrov-Tillerson call was Friday, not Wednesday.

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