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Lavrov says Moscow had to react to United States sanctions

Lavrov says Moscow had to react to United States sanctions”

Moscow said it would cut the USA diplomatic corps even further if the US decides to expel more Russian diplomats.

Russia's action Friday mirrored the Obama administration's response to Russia's cyberattack on the Democratic Party and interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Moscow has responded by ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russian Federation and closing the U.S. Embassy's recreation retreat.

Stung by the new threat of American sanctions, Russia's Foreign Ministry says the USA must downsize its diplomatic and technical staff in Moscow and other cities.

The Russian government also seized two American facilities - a recreational country house outside Moscow and a storage facility in the Russian capital. Russian news agency Interfax reported that the USA would have to cut "hundreds" of its staff.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking ahead of the Senate vote, accused USA lawmakers of 'insolence' and promised retaliation if the sanctions become law", as NPR's Scott Neuman reported Thursday. Lawmakers said they also made adjustments so the sanctions on Russia's energy sector didn't undercut the ability of USA allies in Europe to get access to oil and gas resources outside of Russian Federation. "We responded proportionally and absolutely appropriately", Slutsky said.

He added that some European Union concerns have been addressed in the latest draft law, but, "we remain vigilant".

The White House says President Donald Trump will sign legislation implementing tough new financial sanctions against Russian Federation.

Trump has yet to sign off on the package.

At the top of Russia's wish list is an easing of USA sanctions imposed for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its destabilization of eastern Ukraine, something the Senate action would all but rule out.

Germany and Austria in recent weeks criticized the planned penalties, saying they could affect European businesses involved in piping Russian natural gas.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Berlin won't let up in pushing for a joint approach.

The US Senate approved a bill in a 98-2 vote Thursday to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea and limit US President Donald Trump's ability to lift the restrictions on Moscow.

The new package of sanctions aims to hit President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle by targeting alleged corrupt officials, human rights abusers and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.



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