The Russian leader Sunday ordered the U.S.to cut its diplomatic staff of more than 1,200 in Russia by 755 people in response to new US sanctions imposed against Russia for its meddling in the 2016 presidential election aimed at helping real estate mogul Donald Trump win the USA presidency. A State Department document from 2013 said that of the 1,279 people then employed by the USA mission, 934 were "locally employed" positions.
"We have removed the furniture that remained, kitchenware, and bbq facilities, as well as the equipment of the playing field", said Maria Olson, a spokesman for the embassy, quoted by the news agency Interfax.
Asked when Trump would sign the bill passed last week by Congress, levying new sanctions on Russian Federation, that precipitated the Kremlin's move, Sanders said that "we'll let you know when that's going to happen". "We have no further comment at this time".
It will be their first face-to-face meeting since Congress overwhelmingly passed the sanctions bill last week and Putin retaliated by ordering deep cuts at the US diplomatic missions in Russian Federation.
In December 2016, following allegations of Russian meddling in the US presidential election, President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the closure of two Russian diplomatic recreational retreats.
The 184-page bill hits Mr Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.
The majority of the staff leaving is from Russian Federation and the United States has been told to choose the rest of the 755 staff members. That would bring the US diplomatic mission down to 455 ― roughly the same number of people that Russian Federation employs in the U.S. The cuts would leave both countries with the same number of staff and diplomats in the two countries, 455.
On Tuesday's broadcast of CNN's "Situation Room", Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) stated that members of both parties fear that President Trump is compromised when it comes to Russian Federation.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov clarified on Monday that the 755 could indeed include Russian citizens. Although there are more than 1,200 people working at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and three consulates, only about 300 are believed to be Americans.
That Russians who will lose their jobs might actually not be seen as a bad thing by the government or Kremlin.
"I can tell you, the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not have less work", he said. Majority will be Russian nationals working at US facilities.
She says, "there's a review process, a legal process".
Trump has been clear that he wants to improve relations with Russian Federation, a desire that has been hamstrung by findings of USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation interfered to help the Republican against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
According to a source in the ministry, the accusation by the US Embassy was a "deliberate provocation", as the diplomats were actually barred due to vehicle management. "There was this initial euphoria over Trump getting elected, but that has slowly dwindled ― and now they're just resigned to the fact that, from their perspective, Washington is just anti-Russian", he said. "Embassy staff are key to facilitating all kinds of bilateral work".