Putin or­ders 755 US per­son­nel out

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

in­ter­ests.

Putin said more than 1,000 peo­ple are cur­rently em­ployed at the Mos­cow em­bassy and three US con­sulates in Rus­sia. They in­clude both US cit­i­zens and Rus­sians hired to work in the of­fices.

The Rus­sian leader did not ex­plain how the fig­ure of 755 po­si­tions was cal­cu­lated.

On Fri­day, an of­fi­cial at the US em­bassy, who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied, said the em­bassy em­ployed about 1,100 diplo­matic and sup­port staff in Rus­sia, in­clud­ing Rus­sian and US cit­i­zens.

‘Re­gret­table’

In re­sponse, the US State Depart­ment deemed it “a re­gret­table and un­called for act”.

On Thurs­day, the US Se­nate over­whelm­ingly ap­proved a bill slap­ping tougher sanc­tions on Rus­sia, two days af­ter the bill was ap­proved by the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The bill will be sent to the White House for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to sign into law or veto.

Putin said Rus­sia has pre­pared a large set of mea­sures to re­spond to the US when it is nec­es­sary, in­clud­ing re­stric­tions in “sen­si­tive” ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion with the lat­ter, which hope­fully would not be af­fected for the mo­ment.

“We could imag­ine, the­o­ret­i­cally, that one day a mo­ment would come when the dam­age of at­tempts to put pres­sure on Rus­sia will be com­pa­ra­ble to the neg­a­tive con­se­quences of cer­tain lim­i­ta­tions of our co­op­er­a­tion. If that mo­ment ever comes, we could dis­cuss other re­sponse op­tions. But I hope it will not come to that. As of to­day, I am against it,” Putin said.

Ac­cord­ing to the pres­i­dent, the above-men­tioned ar­eas mostly in­clude the joint fight against ter­ror­ism, obli­ga­tions in nu­clear arms con­trol and space projects rather than eco­nomic re­la­tions, Putin said.

The Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry an­nounced on Fri­day that it would scale down US diplo­matic staff in Rus­sia to 455 peo­ple and seize a US ware­house and a recre­ational com­pound in Mos­cow.

It added that Rus­sia re­serves the right to give an ad­e­quate re­sponse if Wash­ing­ton takes fur­ther hos­tile mea­sures.

The diplo­matic tit-for-tat started un­der for­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama. In re­sponse to re­ports of al­leged Rus­sian med­dling in the elec­tion, Obama or­dered the ex­pul­sion of 35 Rus­sian diplo­mats and shut down two Rus­sian recre­ational re­treats in the US.

Vladimir Putin, Rus­sian pres­i­dent

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