Putin says U.S. will have to cut 755 from diplomatic staff in Russia

(CBS NEWS) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says the U.S. will have to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 under new sanctions from Moscow.

Russian’s Foreign Ministry on Friday ordered a reduction by Sept. 1 in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia. It said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy to reduce the number of embassy and consular employees in the country to 455 in response to the U.S. Senate’s approval of a new package of sanctions.

It was not clear how many reassignments that would mean from the Moscow embassy and the three U.S. consulates in Russia.

Putin said in an interview broadcast on state television Sunday that he ordered the move because he “thought it was the time to show that we’re not going to leave that without an answer.”

The White House has offered no comment on the demanded staff cut, and instead referred all questions for comment to the State Department.

CBS News’ Margaret Brennan reports that a White House official confirmed President Trump is expected to sign the Russia sanctions legislation early this week, but has not yet received the official bill on his desk.

In a statement late Friday, the White House said that Mr. Trump had “read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it.” Having read the latest version, the White House said Mr. Trump intends to sign it. The bill also imposes sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

The Senate passed the bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an overwhelming margin, 419-3. Both were veto-proof numbers. But the White House had objected to a key section of the bill that would mandate a congressional review if Mr. Trump attempted to ease or end the sanctions against Moscow.

The bill had somewhat put Mr. Trump in a corner, since the congressional review had been put in the bill due to a weariness from both sides of the aisle about Mr. Trump and Putin.

The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.

Putin said in his Sunday announcement that the new sanctions would cause damage to the Russia-U.S relationship.

In announcing countermeasures on Friday in response to Senate’s approval of new sanctions, Russia’s Foreign Ministry set a deadline for Washington to reduce its in-country diplomatic staff, as well as ordered the closure of some American facilities in Russia and said that if the U.S. further reduced the number of Russian diplomatic staff currently allowed in the U.S., Russia would mirror that action.

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