The New York Times reports: Russia took its first steps on Friday to retaliate against proposed American sanctions for Moscow’s suspected meddling in the 2016 election, seizing two American diplomatic properties and ordering the United States Embassy to reduce staff by September.
The moves, which Russia had been threatening for weeks, came a day after the United States Senate approved a measure to expand economic sanctions against Russia, as well as against Iran and North Korea. The bill, mirroring one passed by the House on Tuesday, now goes to President Trump for his signature.
In its statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the United States Congress had voted to toughen sanctions. “This yet again attests to the extreme aggressiveness of the United States when it comes to international affairs,” the statement said.
Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin, said the Russian leader had signed off on the measures despite saying a day earlier that he would wait for the final version of the law before taking any such steps.
The version that emerged from the Senate vote late Thursday seemed to be the final version, Mr. Peskov noted, and the White House has already suggested that it might reject this law in favor of something even more onerous.
“The White House said that the bill could be toughened, so it doesn’t change the essence of the situation,” Mr. Peskov said. [Continue reading…]