Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Russia orders US embassy in Moscow to cut staff by 755

President Vladimir V. Putin announced Sunday that the American diplomatic mission in Russia must reduce its staff by 755 employees, an aggressive response to new American sanctions that seemed ripped right from the Cold War playbook and sure to increase tensions between the two capitals. In making the announcement, Mr. Putin said Russia had run out of patience waiting for relations with the United States to improve. “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,” Mr. Putin said in an interview on state-run Rossiya 1 television, which published a Russian-language transcript on its website. “But, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon.” Mr. Putin said the staff reduction was meant to cause real discomfort for Washington and its representatives in Moscow. “Over 1,000 employees — diplomats and technical workers — worked and continue to work today in Russia; 755 will have to stop this activity,” he said. The measures were the harshest such diplomatic move since a similar rupture in 1986, in the waning days of the Soviet Union. Washington’s response on Sunday was muted. “This is a regrettable and uncalled-for act,” the State Department said in a statement. “We are assessing the impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it.”

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