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Tillerson suggested the action was expected, given the domestic pressure on the Russian leader to retaliate for steps Obama took to punish Russia after US intelligence agencies concluded Moscow meddled in the election. His spokesman said later that it would be up to Washington to decide which diplomatic and support staff to cut.

"US and Russian interests fundamentally collide", Chollet said. "As of now, it "greatly exceeds" the number of Russia's embassy staff in the US".

The vast majority of the more than 1,000 employees at the various United States diplomatic missions in Russian Federation, including the embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg, are local employees.

Putin made his announcement in a Russian television interview on Sunday.

Though the White House said the bill was still being reviewed, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will sign it.

The bill was approved by large majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. "I thought it was the time to show that we're not going to leave it without an answer".

"We waited for quite a long time that, perhaps, something will change for the better, we held out hope that the situation would somehow change, but, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon."

Seven months prior, amid intelligence reports that Russia had interfered in the USA presidential election, Washington expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shuttered two Russian diplomatic compounds, which it said was used for intelligence collection (the Russian Embassy denies this, and also says the seizure was a breach of US and global law). Pence used the speech to clear up the USA stance on Russian Federation despite ongoing investigations into alleged ties between the country and Trump's 2016 campaign.

"I think he [Trump] also has to consider that a veto would come at a price", Steven Pifer, director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Voice of America last week. But there was no indication that the legislation pleased the president, who has said he still harbors doubts about whether Russian Federation was behind last year's hacks on the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

While there was confusion in Washington about what was seen as unclear communication by Moscow as to what exactly it wanted, the general reading here is that the reduction of American diplomatic and consular office employees to 455 people mentioned in a Russian foreign ministry press release last week includes not just U.S. diplomats, but all personnel, including Russian staff. Even the former Soviet Union, at the height of the Cold War, never expelled US diplomats on this big a scale. McFaul said on Twitter. This was carried over Russia's 2014 occupation of Crimea and its still unproven intrusion in the 2016 USA voting. It is unclear what those legal questions may be, but the sanctions were passed with language that limit how the President can alter the penalties. Russia's economy has already felt the effects from sanctions put in place in 2014.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month.

The Russian response is in some respects a long delayed response to U.S. President Barack Obama, who, in the final weeks of his administration imposed sanctions on Moscow, expelled Russian diplomats, and seized the Russian compounds.

Putin described the cuts in the U.S. Embassy and consular personnel as "painful".

Later, in a conversation with reporters, Pence said the sanctions send a clear message: "We mean what we say and we say what we mean".

Pence spoke in Estonia's capital, Tallinn, after meeting with leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Of course, it is clear that our people in the bakery on the taxi ride in the United States do not fly, that is Putin again gets in the middle class, who have not considered, not only for people but also for the electorate. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page.