Russia vows more retaliation if US moves forward with sanctions


President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti, Kremlin Pool via AP

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WASHINGTON — Several days after Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded the United States cut its embassy and consulate numbers, Moscow is threatening further retaliation if President Donald Trump signs a new sanction bill.

Last week, Congress approved a bill punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 US election and for its aggression in Ukraine and Syria. It is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump soon and gives Congress the power to block the commander-in-chief from easing sanctions against Russia, CNN reported.

In response, President Putin demanded the US cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755 people, heightening tensions between Washington and Moscow.

“This will be felt significantly from the point of view of diplomatic office work. More than 1,000 diplomats and support staff were and are still working in Russia today, 755 will have to stop their activity in the Russian Federation. It will be felt significantly,” said President Putin.

“We have waited quite a long time and thought something might change for the better. We had hoped that the situation will somehow change, but apparently if it changes, it won’t be soon.”

The announcement from Moscow came hours after US Vice President Mike Pence landed in Estonia, which borders Russia, for talks with the country that holds the rotating European Union presidency.

The US State Department called Putin’s move “a regrettable and uncalled-for act”.

Russian’s Foreign Ministry ordered the reduction be complete by September 1.

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