Russia has ordered the United States to reduce its diplomatic and technical staff at its Embassy in Moscow and diplomatic missions in other Russian cities in response to a U.S. Senate vote to impose tougher sanctions on Russia, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
“We kindly ask the U.S. to adjust the headcount of its diplomatic and technical staff by September to exact parity with the number of Russian diplomats and employees in the U.S.,” the ministry wrote in its statement.
“This means the overall number of personnel employed in American diplomatic and consular institutions in the Russian Federations will be reduced to 455.”
Moscow warned that if Washington takes new unilateral steps to cut the number of Russian diplomats in the United States, its retaliatory moves would be reciprocal.
The Ministry announced in its statement it was also ousting U.S. embassy personnel from warehouses and cottages in Moscow beginning in August.
“We reserve the right to respond with other measures we might find appropriate,” it said.
Moscow said the move came in response to a U.S. Senate vote on July 27 that would impose harsher sanctions on Russia.
“The passage of the new law on sanctions shows with all obviousness that relations with Russia have become hostage to the domestic political battle within the U.S.”
“The latest events show that in well-known circles in the United States, Russophobia and a course toward open confrontation with our country have taken hold,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The retaliatory measures mirror the White House’s decision in December last year to confiscate two Russian diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland and expel 35 Russian diplomats from the country for its alleged hacking of institutions related to the U.S. presidential election.