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31 July 2017, 12:56 | Colleen Roy
Tobias Schwarz Reuters
In a statement on Friday, Russia's foreign ministry said: "The US is stubbornly taking one crudely anti-Russian step after another, using the utterly fictitious pretext of Russian interference in its internal affairs".
"We continue to support strong sanctions against those three countries, and we're going to wait and see what that final legislation looks like and make a decision at that point", she told reporters.
The new USA embassy staffing level would be the same as at Russia's embassy in Washington.
Despite tensions over alleged Russian interference into the USA election, Moscow and Washington have worked closer together on Syria. U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Maria Olson could not immediately say how many people had to leave to meet Russia's new requirements. It is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad. The bill would also add sanctions against North Korea and Iran.
Russia's foreign ministry on Friday announced counter measures in response to tough new sanctions proposed by the United States, ordering Washington to reduce its diplomatic staff.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has personally authorized the Foreign Ministry statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.
Russian Federation told the United States on Friday that some of its diplomats had to leave the country in just over a month and said it was seizing some US diplomatic property as retaliation for what it said were proposed illegal USA sanctions. The ministry is also suspending the U.S. Embassy's use of two sites - a storage facility and a dacha on an island in the Moscow River.
Notably, the new legislation includes restrictive measures against Russian private individuals and separate economic sectors.
Moscow is already the subject of tough USA sanctions over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support for a bloody insurgency in the country.
The new package of sanctions aims to hit President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle by targeting allegedly corrupt officials, human rights abusers and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.
"The Congress of the United States has sent a clear message tonight to the governments of the Russian Federation, Iran and North Korea there will be consequences for their risky, destabilising activities against our country, our allies, our interests and our values", said Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Lavrov said that Russian Federation was "still ready to normalize bilateral relations with the USA and to cooperate on the most important worldwide issues".
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was also seizing a Moscow dacha compound used by USA diplomats to relax from August 1 as well as a US diplomatic warehouse in Moscow.
At the end of 2016, President Obama cited USA findings that Russian Federation had meddled with the recent presidential election when he expelled members of Russia's diplomatic corps and issued sanctions on Russia's mining and oil industry.
The White House had opposed the new sanctions package that curbs Trump's ability to lift the punishment, but the near-total support in the U.S. Senate and House put him in a major bind.
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