Russia Promises Strong, Measured Answer to US Order

Posted September 04, 2017

In July Russia demanded more than 700 USA diplomats stationed in Russia be immediately expelled from the country after Congress passed new sanctions on a number of government officials close to President Vladimir Putin. The measure was aimed at punishing the Russian government for interfering with the USA election past year. He added that the Russian government needs time to study the directive and to decide a plan of action. "We regret escalation of tension not initiated by Russia", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after the announcement.

The decision, taken as a retaliatory measure against Russia's demands that the USA reduce its diplomatic presence in the country from 1,200 to 455, was announced by the U.S. state department on Thursday. The timeline below focuses on key points over the last several years in the USA and Russia's often-tense relations.

Michael Cohen delivered that rejection as congressional investigators and Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller forge ahead with their probes into Russia's interference in last year's presidential race. The bill goes to the House. Moscow also seized two diplomatic compounds. Lavrov calls it "robbery in broad daylight".

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied interfering in the election and strongly protested Obama's move.

"We waited for a rather long time, thinking that things might improve, nourished the hope that the situation would change somehow", Mr Putin said in an interview with Russian state television in July. The measures target Russia's defense, intelligence, energy, railways, metals and mining sectors.

A Moscow deadline for nearly two-thirds of US diplomatic staff to leave Russian Federation expires on September 1, an exodus that starkly demonstrates the souring relationship between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

Finally, on July 28th, Russia responded to the provocation by expelling as many as 755 diplomats from the country with a deadline for leaving 1st September and brought down the numbers of U.S. diplomatic staffs working in Russia in line with the Russians working in the United States.

August 2: Trump reluctantly signs a bill imposing new sanctions on Russian Federation.

Trump signed the "Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act" but noted it was "seriously flawed" and had "clearly unconstitutional provisions" that encroach on the executive branch's authority to negotiate foreign policy.

Now, more than half a year into Trump's term, the State Department says relations between the two countries are in a "downward spiral" - but adds that, in the interest of arresting that slide, it will not be pursuing true parity in diplomatic sites.

Responding to a Russian government demand to drastically slash American diplomatic staff in Russia, the Trump administration on Thursday ordered Moscow to close three of its consular offices in the United States.