Putin orders 755 US personnel out
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.
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