Moscow Cuts Back Number of Personnel in US Diplomatic, Consular Missions

Kristopher Drake
July 30, 2017

Immediately after the U.S. ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recommended a tit-for-tat expulsion of 35 USA diplomats and the shuttering of two American facilities in Russia. The statement made no reference to Russia's retaliatory measures.

"The anti-Russian juggernaut put into motion by the Obama administration not only hasn't stopped, as Trump promised during his election campaign, but it's gaining speed", Leonid Slutsky, head of the global affairs committee in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, said on Russian state television. Trump denies any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

Putin said Moscow would only decide on how to retaliate once it had seen the final text of the proposed law.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee says the agreement he and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reached late Wednesday will allow Congress to pass the bill hitting the three USA foes with additional penalties.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the USA had until September 1 to bring the number of diplomatic and technical personnel in Russian Federation to 455, the same number it said Russian Federation has in the U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he "very much regrets" the worsening of relations between Russia and the United States.

"Of course such measures are impossible without authorization by the president", Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. That included Russian citizens and United States citizens.

Lavrov and Tillerson "agreed to maintain contact on a range of bilateral issues", the Russian Foreign Ministry said.


It was not immediately clear how many U.S. diplomats and other workers would be forced to leave either the country or their posts, but the Interfax news agency cited an informed source as saying "hundreds" of people would be affected.

An official at the US Embassy, who declined to be named because they were not allowed to speak to the media, said the Embassy employed around 1,100 diplomatic and support staff in Russia, including Russian and US citizens.

If the United States tries to adopt any additional unilateral measures against Russia as part of its "anti-Russian frenzy", Moscow's reaction will follow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Wednesday.

US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft has expressed his "strong disappointment and protest" over Moscow's decision to expel the US diplomats, according to a statement to CNN from the US Embassy in Moscow.

Most staff, including around 300 U.S. citizens, work in the main embassy in Moscow with others based in outlying consulates. Russian Federation will also close down the embassy's recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

Despite the president's efforts, a federal probe into the election interference is only accelerating and the Republican-led Congress, wary of both Putin and where that investigation may lead, crafted provisions in the new legislation that would restrict the president's ability to lift sanctions.

"Abandonment of the Nord Stream 2 project is spelled out in the text of the bill, but in fact, any project in the EU-Russian cooperation in the field of energy security ... may be subjected to sanctions, including pipeline fix work, on which EU energy security depends", Gernot Erler, a member of the Bundestag's Committee on Foreign Affairs, was quoted as saying by the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.

A European Commission spokesman in Brussels said the bloc would be following the sanctions process closely.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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