Putin to kick out 755 diplomatic staff in revenge for US sanctions
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the United States will have to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755 under new sanctions from Moscow.
On Friday, Russia's foreign ministry ordered a reduction to 455 by September 1 in the number of US diplomats in the country in response to the US Senate's approval of a new package of sanctions, but Mr Putin has now confirmed the number who must go by September 1.
"We had hoped that the situation will somehow change, but apparently if it changes, it won't be soon," Mr Putin said yesterday, explaining why Moscow decided to retaliate.
"I thought it was the time to show that we're not going to leave it without an answer."
Mr Putin said more than 1,000 people are currently employed at the Moscow embassy and three US consulates in Russia. Asked about the potential for additional sanctions against Washington, Mr Putin described the reduction in diplomatic staff as "painful" and said he currently opposes further measures.
"We certainly have something to respond with and restrict those areas of joint co-operation that will be painful for the American side but I don't think we need to do it," he said.