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Russian Federation orders cut in U.S. diplomats in reaction to sanctions

31 July 2017

The Russian Foreign Ministry's statement said the passage of the bill confirmed "the extreme aggression of the United States in global affairs".

Lawmakers said they also made adjustments so the sanctions on Russia's energy sector didn't undercut the ability of USA allies in Europe to get access to oil and gas resources outside of Russian Federation.

Russian state television channel Rossiya 24 said over 700 staff would be affected but that was not confirmed by the foreign ministry or the U.S. embassy. Access to the properties was closed for the Russian personnel.

Earlier, U.S. Ambassador John Tefft "expressed his strong disappointment and protest" at the development, a spokesperson at the embassy in Moscow told AFP.

The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday approved the Foreign Ministry's measure to downsize the number of personnel in USA diplomatic and consular missions to 455.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told United States counterpart Rex Tillerson that Moscow remained ready to work with Washington.

Tefft referred to Moscow's decision to reduce the number of United States diplomats in Russian Federation to 455 by September 1, as well as the suspension of the use of all storage facilities by the U.S. embassy as of August 1.

Russian Federation on Friday ordered a reduction in the number of US diplomats allowed in Russian Federation and said it was closing down a USA recreational retreat in response to the USA approval of a new package of stiff financial sanctions against Russian Federation.

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These moves were caused by a series of hostile actions by Washington, including "unlawful" sanctions and "slanderous" accusations against Russia, said Lavrov, according to a statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The 184-page bill seeks to hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting Russian corruption, human rights abusers, and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.

"President Donald J Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a late-night statement.

At the end of 2016, President Obama cited USA findings that Russian Federation had meddled with the recent presidential election when he expelled members of Russia's diplomatic corps and issued sanctions on Russia's mining and oil industry.

The two senators to vote against the bill were Sens.

Notably, the new legislation includes restrictive measures against Russian private individuals and separate economic sectors.

As the below infographic shows, the United States imports more goods from Russian Federation than it exports, according to data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was also seizing a Moscow dacha compound used by USA diplomats to relax from August 1 as well as a US diplomatic warehouse in Moscow.

Russian Federation orders cut in U.S. diplomats in reaction to sanctions