In order to punish the United States for imposing a number of sanctions on them, the Kremlin has asked the United States to reduce their presence in Russia – the Moscow embassy along with the consulates in Ekaterinburg, Vladivostok and St Petersburg.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked that the United States cut down the 755 diplomatic staff to just 455 in Russia by September 1st, and further action might be taken although he said that it might not be deemed necessary. After the announcement, one of the staff members from the US state department said that the action was uncalled for and they would soon respond to it.
In an interview with Rossia-24 television, Mr. Putin said that the excess staff working in the US embassy and consulates – both diplomats and technical staff has to stop working in Russia. He also added that they would not expect the relations between both the countries to normalize soon. He said that they have waited for many years hoping things would change, but it doesn't seem like it in the near future. Mr. Putin warned of further restrictions in their country that will be sensitive for America and are thinking of other ways to retaliate on the new sanctions put on them.
The strong Russian reaction is much harsher than one can contemplate before and also put further relations between the two countries in jeopardy. Even though President Trump had signaled building better ties with Russia during his Presidential campaign, the relation is already at its lowest since the Cold War. One of the former US ambassadors to Russia, Michael McFaul said that if the cuts do happen, Russia should be ready to wait for weeks and months to receive visas for visiting the US. Moscow has also frozen two of the US embassy compounds starting August 1st of this year.
Mr. Putin said that this was their way of showing that they will not stand by on the baseless measures that the US has taken against them. He complained that Russia had proposed cooperation with the American side many times, but all they hear is that they are interfering in their internal affairs. This was a major shift in tone when Mr. Putin met President Trump at the 20 Summit meeting held in Germany. This was supposed to be a new era in the improvement of ties with Russia for the US. The staff members in Moscow are worried about their status as they have no information with them, just rumors.