Russia urges United States to repair ties
MOSCOW — Amid a major diplomatic retaliation unseen since the Cold War era, Russia urged the United States on Monday to show the “political will” to repair ties.
President Vladimir Putin’s move to cut hundreds of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia underlines his readiness to raise the ante in the face of new sanctions approved by the U.S. Congress. The Russian leader warned that he has more tricks up his sleeve to hurt the U.S., but he voiced hope that he wouldn’t need to use them.
Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said it will take time for the U.S. to recover from what he called “political schizophrenia,” but he added that Russia wants constructive co-operation with Washington.
“We are interested in a steady development of our ties and are sorry to note that we are still far from that,” he said.
Putin said the U.S. would have to cut 755 of its embassy and consular staff in Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry first announced Friday that the U.S. should reduce its presence to 455 employees, the number that Russia has in the United States. It also declared the closure of a U.S. recreational retreat and warehouse facilities.
Moscow’s action is the expected response to former U.S. president Barack Obama’s move to expel 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the U.S. following allegations of meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Putin had refrained from retaliating in the hope that President Donald Trump would improve ties with Moscow.
“We had hoped for quite a long time that the situation will somehow change, but apparently if it changes, it won’t be soon,” Putin said Sunday. “I thought it was the time for us to show that we’re not going to leave anything without an answer.”