USA packs up Russian villa after Putin's order to expel diplomatic staff

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to attend the military parade during the Navy Day celebration in St. Petersburg Russia on Sunday

Putin confirms 755 US diplomatic staff must leave

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the U.S. will have to remove about 755 diplomats from Moscow to comply with the new caps. (The bill also imposes sanctions on North Korea and Iran.) Trump rationalized his decision to support the legislation by claiming, unconvincingly, that "critical elements" had been modified to meet his objections.

755 American diplomats will have to leave Russia as a result of Washington's own policies, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in an exclusive interview with the Rossiya 1 TV channel.

The number of United States diplomatic service staff in Russia was ordered to be reduced in order to equal the number of Russian diplomats in the U.S. by September 1.

On Thursday, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to toughen sanctions on Russian Federation for allegedly meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and its intervention in Ukraine.

But it's easy to see why Putin might have thought President Trump in the end would forgive Russian interference in the race for the White House - which USA intelligence agencies described as "a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations aimed at US elections".

Putin said more than 1,000 people are now employed at the Moscow embassy and three US consulates in Russian Federation. According to Anthony Scaramucci, the president's now-fired communications director, Trump recently said, "Maybe they did it, maybe they didn't do it".

The State Department declined to give an exact number of American diplomats or other US officials in Russian Federation, but the figure is believed to be about 400, some of whom have families accompanying them on diplomatic passports.

The Russian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The American diplomatic mission includes more than 1,200 personnel.

Last week, Russian Federation retaliated against the USA for expulsions and properties seized back in December, announcing that they are capping the number of United States diplomats at the Moscow embassy at 455, and also announcing they will seize two other U.S. properties in Moscow at the start of September.

President Putin ordered America to get rid of 755 of its 1,200 staff by 1 September in retaliation for sanctions approved by Congress last week.

The diplomatic tit-for-tat started under former U.S. President Barack Obama.

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