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Russia foreign ministry orders diplomat reduction ahead of US sanctions

[JURIST] The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday ordered the US [statement, in Russian] to reduce its number of diplomats in the country to 455 and evacuate two buildings used by the embassy.

The Ministry said the change is in response to pending US sanctions [HR 3364 materials] against Russia, which US President Donald Trump said Friday [press release] he intended to sign into law. It also said the US sanctions would violate the UN Charter [text], and that previous US expulsions of Russian diplomats violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations [text, PDF], saying both were politically motivated:

The adoption of the new sanctions bill is an obvious indication that relations with Russia are in thrall to the political infighting in the United States. Moreover, the new bill sets to a goal to create a dishonest competitive advantage for the US in the global economy through the use of political means. This blackmail aimed at restricting Russia’s cooperation with its foreign partners threatens many countries and international businesses. [Ministry statement, in English]
US lawmakers cited evidence of interference with US elections and human rights violations as justification for the sanctions and earlier expulsions.

The Ministry said the change makes the number of US diplomats in Russia match the number of Russian diplomats in the US and gave until September 1 for the reduction.

Both the US House of Representatives and Senate [JURIST reports] voted overwhelmingly in favor of the sanctions against Russia earlier this week. They follow, and in some cases give express congressional backing to, sanctions former US president Barack Obama made by executive order [JURIST report] last year following a government report [statement] finding Russia responsible for hacking the Democratic party servers.

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