Russia Retaliates For Sanctions Approval, Hitting At US Diplomatic Corps

Some former officials said Russia could take other steps, such as seeking to help Russian-backed forces seize more ground in eastern Ukraine or to try to limit USA air operations in Syria, while others said any reaction might be more muted.

Earlier, Moscow made a decision to reduce the number of USA diplomatic staff in Russian Federation and halt the use of embassy storage facilities.

Despite tensions over alleged Russian interference into the US election, Moscow and Washington have worked closer together on Syria.

An official at the USA embassy in Moscow, who declined to be named because they were not allowed to speak to the media, said there were around 1,100 US diplomatic staff in Russian Federation.

"The legislation would codify existing sanctions on Russia by placing into law six executive orders signed by President Obama in response to both Russian interference in the 2016 election and its illegal actions in Ukraine".

It said in a statement that the decision by Congress to impose new sanctions confirmed "the extreme aggression of the United States in global affairs".

The ministry said the number was being cut to 455 diplomats.

The first sanctions were put in place under previous President Barack Obama in the wake of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 by Russian Federation, for violating the territorial integrity of neighboring Ukraine.

Russia gave the United States until September 1 to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the number of Russian diplomats left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December because of the alleged election hacking. The ministry is also suspending the U.S. Embassy's use of two sites - a storage facility and a dacha on an island in the Moscow River.

The new package of sanctions aims to hit President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle by targeting alleged corrupt officials, human rights abusers and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.

U.S. President Donald Trump will reportedly sign the legislation into law.

Notably, the new legislation includes restrictive measures against Russian private individuals and separate economic sectors.

It was not immediately clear how many US diplomats and other workers would be forced to leave the country.

At the end of 2016, President Obama cited US findings that Russian Federation had meddled with the recent presidential election when he expelled members of Russia's diplomatic corps and issued sanctions on Russia's mining and oil industry.

"The Russian decision to reduce US diplomatic staff appears linked directly to the new Congressional sanctions bill", Steven Pifer, senior fellow of Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.

US Senate on Thursday sent a breath-taking signal that it does not trust Trump on Russia. - file picWASHINGTON, July 29 - Russian President Vladimir Putin tossed President-elect Donald Trump a bouquet in December when he chose not to retaliate for the US expulsion of Russian diplomats and seizure of Russian diplomatic compounds.

  • Joey Payne