Russian President Vladimir Putin in an exclusive interview with Rossiya 1 TV said that the US embassy in Russia will have to cut its staff by 755 people as a result of Washington’s policies.
“The American side has made a move which, it is important to note, hasn’t been provoked by anything, to worsen Russian-US relations. [It includes] unlawful restrictions, attempts to influence other states of the world, including our allies, who are interested in developing and keeping relations with Russia,” Putin told channel host, Vladimir Solovyov, Sunday.
“We’ve been waiting for quite a long time that maybe something would change for the better, we had hopes that the situation would change. But it looks like, it’s not going to change in the near future… I decided that it is time for us to show that we will not leave anything unanswered,” the Russian president added.
The decision to remove U.S. diplomats meets similar actions taken by the Obama administration last December, when it seized two Russian diplomatic properties—one in Maryland, one in New York—and reduced its staff in the U.S. to 455. Russian had signaled the expulsion Friday, but Putin’s statement was the first confirmation of how many diplomats would be removed.
The US State Department responded to Moscow’s move with regret, arguing that it was an “uncalled-for act.”
“We are assessing the impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it,” a statement from the department said.
However, the State Department declined to comment on the exact number of embassy and consular staff in Russia, as reported by Reuters.