Russian official vows 'retaliation' for more sanctions

Russia gave the United States until September 1 to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the number of Russian diplomats left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December because of the alleged election hacking.

"We have received the Russian government notification", a State Department official said on condition of anonymity.

The measure is aimed at penalizing the Kremlin for meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election and its annexation of Crimea.

US President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation slapping punitive sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea that the Congress approved this week, the White House has said.

The move comes after Russia has repeatedly expressed anger at Washington barring its diplomats access to two compounds in the United States in December past year, under Barack Obama, in response to suspected Russian meddling in the USA election.

"755 people must stop their activities in Russian Federation".

Russian Federation denies it interfered in the election and Trump has said there was no collusion.

It was not clear then how many reassignments that would mean from the Moscow embassy and the three USA consulates in Russian Federation.

The legislation, which was sent to the White House on Friday, would sanction Russian Federation while sharply limiting Trump's ability to ease penalties against Moscow independently.

However, in terms of general relations, Putin said: "We have waited long enough, hoping that the situation would perhaps change for the better".

Russian President Vladimir Putin tossed President-elect Donald Trump a bouquet in December when he chose not to retaliate for the United States expulsion of Russian diplomats and seizure of Russian diplomatic compounds.

The EU and USA previously worked together to impose sanctions in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea in Mar 2014, overcoming division on how far to go in punishing Moscow.

The law now goes to President Donald Trump, who had made an improvement in ties with Russian Federation a plank of his election campaign.

Russia's Foreign Ministry dismissed the new sanctions as "creating unfair competitive advantages for the US economy".

He repeated that the USA sanctions were a step to worsening relations between the two countries.

Putin noted the recentl creation of a de-escalation zone in southern Syria as one example of how the countries have worked together.

Trump and Putin met for the first time at a G20 summit in Germany this month in what both sides described as a productive encounter, but Russian officials have become increasingly convinced that Congress and Trump's political opponents will not allow him to mend ties, even if he wants to.

  • Rogelio Becker