In what seems to be a terrifying move by Russia, Vladimir Putin has ordered the expulsion of 755 American diplomats, creating a bigger difference between the two countries.
This move has come after both the houses of US Congress unanimously voted against Moscow and imposed fresh sanctions on it – a move that Putin described as “unlawful” on the part of Washington.
In an interview to Rossiya 1 TV, Putin said:
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.
Venting his disgust against USA on air, Putin was further heard saying:
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 sanctions bill passed by USA also includes measures against North Korea and Iran, and has been passed over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged interference in the US presidential elections in 2016.
Needless to say, this move at the Capitol Hill has literally pushed the US president on to unstable ground. On the one hand, he has made it clear that he was against the measure whereas, on the other hand, he is willing to sign the bill even when he could undo it all by using his veto power. Had he chosen to do the latter, he would have been on the receiving point of fresh accusations regarding his softness on Moscow.
Subsequently, on Friday, Moscow warned the US that it intends on expelling a few US diplomats from the country as well as seize two properties used by the US diplomats. However, it was only on Sunday that Putin made everyone aware of the exact number of US envoys he intends to expel.
Last week, Reuters was informed by an official in the US Embassy that currently there were around 1,100 US diplomats and support staff working in the country, a number that includes both Russian and US citizens.
Describing this entire state of events as “a regrettable and uncalled-for act”, a US State Department official said:
We are assessing the impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it.
It may be recalled that last December, President Obama had called for the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in the US along with seizing two properties used by the Russian officials in the State as a measure to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the US presidential elections.