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Congress overwhelmingly passes new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea

Congress overwhelmingly passes new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea”

The legislation, McCain said would impose mandatory sanctions on transactions with the Russian defence or intelligence sectors, including the FSB and the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency that was primarily responsible for Russia's attack on U.S. election.

He added that he hoped potential future US-Russia cooperation would make the sanctions unnecessary at some point.

U.S. and Russian flags hung at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 28, 2017.

"We have something to retaliate with: the personnel of the USA embassy in Moscow greatly exceeds the number of our embassy staff in Washington", Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated. Lawmakers said they also made adjustments so the sanctions on Russia's energy sector didn't undercut the ability of US allies in Europe to get access to oil and gas resources outside of Russian Federation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the United States had until September 1 to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the same number of Russian diplomats it said were left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December.

"This means that the total number of personnel involved in the American diplomatic and consular institutions in the Russian Federation is reduced to 455".

The U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, John Tefft, has "expressed his strong disappointment and protest" over Russia's decision to cut U.S. diplomatic staff in Moscow and seize a dacha compound and warehouse used by American diplomats, a State Department official said on Friday.

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It also said it was barring the US embassy from using a Moscow summer house and storage facility in the city from August 1.

Moscow is already the subject of tough USA sanctions over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support for a bloody insurgency in the country.

The bill targets Russia's aggression in Ukraine and Syria, citing corruption, human rights abuses and weapons sales. The White House had not said that Trump had considered a veto, but White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci had left open the possibility in an appearance on CNN on Thursday. That included Russian citizens and USA citizens.

"The Russian decision to reduce US diplomatic staff appears linked directly to the new Congressional sanctions bill", Steven Pifer, senior fellow of Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.

At the end of 2016, President Obama cited US findings that Russian Federation had meddled with the recent presidential election when he expelled members of Russia's diplomatic corps and issued sanctions on Russia's mining and oil industry.

Lavrov said that Russian Federation was "still ready to normalize bilateral relations with the US and to cooperate on the most important global issues".

Moscow said it would cut the US diplomatic corps even further if the USA decides to expel more Russian diplomats.



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