The FINANCIAL — The Kremlin says it will be up to the United States to choose which of its diplomatic staff in Russia would be cut after Moscow demanded that Washington drastically reduce personnel numbers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on July 31 that Russian citizens working at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Russia could be among the 755 staff to go, according to RFE/RL.
“There are not that many [U.S.] diplomats [in Russia],” Peskov said. “We are talking about diplomats, people without diplomatic status, and local hires — that is, Russian citizens who work [at the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Russia].”
Moscow ordered the reduction in U.S. diplomatic staff after U.S. lawmakers passed a bill that would impose additional sanctions on Russia.
“There was no point in waiting” until U.S. President Donald Trump signs the sanctions legislation,” Peskov said.
Speaking in Estonia on July 31, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the United States would not be deterred from its goals by Moscow’s demand.
“Recent diplomatic action taken by Moscow will not deter commitment of the United States to our security, the security of our allies, and the security of freedom-loving nations around the world,” he said.
The U.S. State Department called the Russian move a “regrettable and uncalled for act” and said Washington was considering a possible response.
The relationship between Washington and Moscow has been badly damaged by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, its role in the war in Syria, and its alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.
With reporting by Reuters and TASS