Moscow limits United States diplomatic missions staff to 455

Elias Hubbard
July 30, 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone call later on Friday that Moscow was forced to respond to what he described as "illegal sanctions against Russia, libelous statements against it, a massive expulsion of diplomats and expropriation of our diplomatic property".

Republican Senator John McCain, a leading congressional voice calling for a firm line against Russian Federation, said before the vote: "The United States of America needs to send a strong message to Vladimir Putin and any other aggressor that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy". Lawmakers said they also made adjustments so the sanctions on Russia's energy sector didn't undercut the ability of US allies in Europe to get access to oil and gas resources outside of Russian Federation.

Lavrov told Tillerson that Moscow's decision to cut USA diplomatic staff in Russian Federation was prompted by "a number of Washington's hostile steps". The Senate on Friday decisively approved a package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

By signing the bill into law, Trump cannot ease the sanctions against Russian Federation unless he seeks congressional approval.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he "very much regrets" the worsening of relations between Russia and the United States.

Asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin had authorized the move, Peskov said such measures are "impossible without the President's permission". The Obama administration imposed earlier sanctions late a year ago just after the election.

"Under the absolutely invented pretext of Russian interference in their domestic affairs the United States is aggressively pushing forward, one after another, crude anti-Russian actions".

It said that this would reduce the number of USA diplomats and staff to 455.

The ministry said the number was being cut to 455 diplomats.

Lavrov added, however, that Moscow was "ready to normalize the bilateral relations with the USA and cooperate on important worldwide issues".

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly denied the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered using cyber warfare methods, has threatened retaliation against the legislation.

"Over the last eight months what price has Russian Federation paid for attacking our elections?"

However, EU leaders warned the United States on Wednesday that the bloc would act "within days" if it did not receive reassurances on the potential impact of the new USA sanctions on European interests.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Friday it was now up to Trump to decide how to proceed. "And we want to make sure that they're tough sanctions and that they're durable sanctions".

"Not only are the Democrats to a man and woman against any form of improving ties because they are angry about Russia's election interference, but a lot of Republicans are concerned as well", Stent said. We agree that it needs political pressure on Moscow.

But Gabriel added that Germany "will in no way accept an extraterritorial application of these U.S. sanctions against European companies".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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