Rus­sia or­ders cut in U.S. diplo­mats

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD - BY NATALIYA VASILYEVA

Rus­sia’s For­eign Min­istry or­dered a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of U.S. diplo­mats in Rus­sia and said it was clos­ing down a U.S. recre­ation re­treat in re­sponse to fresh sanc­tions against Rus­sia.

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 bars Trump from eas­ing or waiv­ing the penal­ties on Rus­sia un­less Congress agrees. It is aimed at pun­ish­ing Moscow for in­ter­fer­ing in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and for its mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion in Ukraine and Syria, where the Krem­lin has backed Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad.

The Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry said, in re­sponse, it is or­der­ing the U.S. Em­bassy in Rus­sia to re­duce the num­ber of its diplo­mats by Sept. 1. Rus­sia will also close down the em­bassy’s recre­ational re­treat on the out­skirts of Moscow as well as ware­house fa­cil­i­ties.

The min­istry said the num­ber was be­ing cut to 455 diplo­mats. U.S. Em­bassy spokes­woman Maria Ol­son could not im­me­di­ately say how many peo­ple had to leave to meet Rus­sia’s new re­quire­ments.

Ol­son said Am­bas­sador John Tefft “ex­pressed his strong dis­ap­point­ment and protest” with the move and passed the Rus­sian govern­ment’s no­ti­fi­ca­tion to Wash­ing­ton for re­view.

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