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Russian Federation boots U.S. diplomats in retaliation for new sanctions

31 July 2017

"What we are seeing (in the US) is merely anti-Russia hysteria", Putin said, in response to a question from CNN about the state of the relationship in light of the investigation in the US Congress into allegations of Russian election meddling and the possible tightening of US sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that the US diplomatic missions in Moscow and elsewhere in the country will have to reduce their staffs by 755 people, signaling a dramatic escalation in the Russian response to American sanctions over the Kremlin's intervention in the 2016 presidential elections.

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.

Following the orders, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov threatened further retaliation against the U.S. Currently, close to 1,200 employees work at the United States' embassy and consulates in Russia, according to US and Russian data.

"The passage of the new law on sanctions shows with all obviousness that relations with Russian Federation have become hostage to the domestic political battle within the USA", the Foreign Ministry said in a statement announcing the moves.

"To waive sanctions on Russia, Trump would have to send Congress a report explaining and justifying his decision, and lawmakers would then get 30 days to decide whether to allow it".

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

Iran and North Korea are also targeted in the sanctions bill. 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.

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"We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal", he said.

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

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

Russian Federation said it would also seize two properties used by the U.S. Embassy by next week.

"It's impossible to endlessly tolerate this kind of insolence toward our country".

Russia's response mirrors moves by outgoing President Barack Obama last December to expel 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian estates in the U.S.

The White House says Trump supports sanctions on the three countries in question and will review the legislation.

Russian Federation boots U.S. diplomats in retaliation for new sanctions