Putin says US will have to shed diplo­matic staff in Rus­sia

West Hawaii Today - - Nation & World -

MOSCOW — Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said Sun­day the United States would have to cut its em­bassy and con­sulate staff in Rus­sia by 755, height­en­ing ten­sions be­tween Washington and Moscow three days af­ter the U.S. Congress ap­proved sanc­tions against Rus­sia.

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

Rus­sian’s For­eign Min­istry on Fri­day or­dered a re­duc­tion by Sept. 1 in the num­ber of U.S. diplo­matic per­son­nel in Rus­sia. It said it is or­der­ing the U.S. Em­bassy to limit the num­ber of em­bassy and con­sular em­ploy­ees in the coun­try to 455 in re­sponse to ap­proval of the new pack­age of Amer­i­can sanc­tions. The White House has said U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump would sign those sanc­tions into law.

The leg­is­la­tion, which also tar­gets Iran and North Korea, seeks to pu­n­ish Moscow for med­dling in the 2016 U.S. elec­tion and for its mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion in Ukraine and Syria.

“We had hoped that the sit­u­a­tion will some­how change, but ap­par­ently if it changes, it won’t be soon,” Putin said in an in­ter­view tele­vised on Ros­siya 1, ex­plain­ing why Moscow de­cided to re­tal­i­ate. “I thought it was the time to show that we’re not go­ing to leave it with­out an an­swer.”

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

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