Russian President Vladimir Putin has personally authorized the Foreign Ministry’s measures in response to the sanctions bill that was passed in the US Senate on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry suspended the use of all US Embassy warehouses and its compound in Moscow and also offered the US to cut down the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people by September 1. Moreover, the ministry said that it reserves the reciprocal right to hit US interests in response to the US sanctions bill.
“Of course such measures are impossible without authorization by the president,” Peskov told reporters.
The US Senate approved a bill in a 98-2 vote on Thursday to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea and limit US President Donald Trump’s ability to lift the restrictions on Moscow. The bill passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 419 to 3. The measures target Russia’s defense, intelligence, mining, shipping and railway industries, and restrict dealings with Russian banks and energy companies.
“The form in which it [the sanctions bill] came out after the Senate likely carries more importance,” Peskov told reporters in explaining the Russian Foreign Ministry’s response without awaiting Donald Trump to sign into law or veto the bill.
“Technologically, this form seems almost final,” Peskov said.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is behaving patiently amid sanctions, but time will come when Moscow will be forced to respond to arrogance, adding that if adopted, the US anti-Russia sanctions bill would be an “extra-cynical move.”
The bill, which is yet to be approved by US President Donald Trump, has already prompted criticism within the European Union. France and Germany have so far spoken out against the bill that the US House passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday as one that adversely affects European industries while advancing US commercial interests.
In December 2016, the administration of former US President Barack Obama imposed a set of punitive measuresagainst Russia, including the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the closure of the two Russian diplomatic compounds. The actions were taken in response to Moscow’s alleged interference in the US presidential election, which Russia has repeatedly denied.
Back in December, Putin decided not to respond to sanctions imposed by the outgoing US administration and act in accordance with the ties built with the new US leadership. However, since then, the diplomatic property hasn’t been returned. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saidearlier that Moscow would take retaliatory measures against Washington if the situation with Russia’s diplomatic property in the United States was not resolved.