Russian Federation expels 775 United States diplomats over sanctions

Marie Harrington
August 2, 2017

Mr. Putin could impose counter-sanctions, but the chances of winning a trade war with the world's largest economy are slim.

Russian Federation has called on the United States to show "political will" to improve relations between the two countries.

On Thursday, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to toughen sanctions on Russian Federation for allegedly meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Mark Galeotti, the senior researcher at UMV, the Institute of International Relations Prague, held that Moscow's latest move will certainly inconvenience both the US State Department and also any Russian wanting a US visa or otherwise hoping to use the services of American's embassy and consulates there.

US Vice President Mike Pence while on a visit to Estonia on Monday said: "We hope for better days, for better relations with Russian Federation".

Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry official as saying that the embassy had sent vehicles to the property without the necessary permits required due to the residence's location in a conservation area.

The move might be geared at limiting the U.S.'s ability to operate on Russian soil, experts say, but it has a lot less teeth than the sanctions levied by Congress.

On Friday, Russian's Foreign Ministry ordered a reduction by September 1 in the number of USA diplomatic personnel in Russia. President Trump, however, said he will still sign and approve the bill, instead of using his power to abolish the proposal and risk accusations that he is a follower of #Vladimir Putin.

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But the measures are by far the harshest diplomatic retaliation since 1986, in the final days of the Soviet Union, when Moscow forced 261 local staff members to quit. "They had hoped for some kind of a reset under President Trump and they haven't seen that", said Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former ambassador to Ukraine.

A 2013 inspector general report noted more than 900 employees working at the us embassy or consulate offices in Russian Federation were local hires. "It's to the detriment of the interests of the U.S".

Despite the tensions with the U.S., Moscow probably will try to stick to the safe zone agreement, which helps secure its role as a key player in the Syrian crisis on equal par with the U.S.

It was not clear then how many reassignments that would mean from the Moscow embassy and the three US consulates in Russian Federation.

The legislation, which also targets Iran and North Korea, seeks to punish Moscow for alleged meddling in the 2016 USA election and for its actions in Ukraine and Syria.

Last week, both chambers of the US Congress chose to impose new sanctions against Russian Federation over its Crimea reunification and alleged meddling in US elections. That, despite the fact the US intelligence community is unanimous in its agreement about Russia's role.

Russia's global new agency RIA Novosti reported that the Russian government has sought to strictly regulate illegal contents on the internet.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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