President Trump receives Russian Federation sanctions bill for his signature or veto

Posted July 30, 2017

In a statement on Friday, Russia's foreign ministry said the United States must reduce its staff to 455 people by September 1.

"This means that the total number of personnel employed by USA diplomatic and consular establishments in the Russian Federation has been reduced to 455 people".

Russia's Foreign Ministry ordered a reduction in the number of USA diplomats in Russian Federation on Friday and said it was closing down a US recreational retreat in response to fresh sanctions against Russian Federation.

The move was a further blow to hopes in Moscow that Trump's election might help improve ties that slumped to their lowest point since the Cold War over the Kremlin's meddling in Ukraine and alleged interference in the USA election.

Reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election have put a damper on hopes for better ties that the Kremlin had pinned on Trump's presidency.

The Russian Foreign Ministry strongly criticized the latest package of sanctions approved by USA lawmakers on Tuesday.

In a phone call later with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that the measures from Moscow were a "necessary step", his ministry said.

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On Thursday, the US Senate passed new bipartisan sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, sending the package to President Donald Trump.

But the idea seems all but doomed as Mr Trump remains dogged by allegations at home of Russian interference in the election, and possible collusion by key members of his campaign, including his son and son-in-law.

Shortly after the launch, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged other countries to take firm action against North Korea, saying any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a risky regime.

It also said it was seizing some United States diplomatic property in retaliation for what it said were proposed illegal USA sanctions. "The Russian Federation has been doing everything in its power to improve bilateral relations, to encourage ties and cooperation with the US on the most pressing issues".

Trump and Putin met for the first time at a G20 summit in Germany this month in what both sides described as a productive encounter, but Russian officials have become increasingly convinced that Congress and Trump's political opponents will not allow him to mend ties, even if he wants to.

The retaliatory measures would mirror the White House's decision in December previous year to confiscate two Russian diplomatic compounds in NY and Maryland and expel 35 Russian diplomats from the country.

US Ambassador John Tefft "expressed his strong disappointment and protest" at the Russian retaliatory move on Friday, as cited by Russian news agencies and Western media.