Rus­sia urges United States to re­pair ties

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

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.”

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