Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a state awards ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Sunday, June 12, 2016. Russian scientists, music, theatre and cinema figures were presented with a state awards by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday. (Maxim Shipenkov, Pool Photo via AP)

Vlad the Downsizer – Russia Responds to U.S. Sanctions

In a statement on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to anticipated new U.S. sanctions against his country.  He has ordered the U.S. to cut its embassy staff by 755 people and has seized two American properties in Moscow (a house and a storage building).

Putin’s statement came after the U.S. Congress last week passed a sanctions bill by a vote of 98-2 in the Senate and 491-3 in the House.  U.S. President Donald Trump has not yet signed the bill, but has said that he will.  Indeed, Congress could easily override a veto anyway.

The U.S. sanctions are in response to suspected Russian interference in the 2016 elections, it’s seizure of Crimea, and its actions in supporting rebels in Ukraine.  Vice President Mike Pence has also stated that he hopes the sanctions will encourage Russia to cease its support of North Korea and Iran.

Both sides have indicated that they will continue to respond “in-kind” to one another’s actions.  Iran, Syria, North Korea, and the future of NATO remain as areas of dispute between Russia and the U.S.; these issues are likely to further aggravate the relationship between the two countries.

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Aaron Simms

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