Russia will force the US diplomatic mission in the country to eliminate hundreds of people from its workforce by September 1, President Vladimir Putin told state TV in an interview that aired on Sunday
"More than 1,000 workers — diplomats and support staff — were working and are still working in Russia; 755 must stop their activity in the Russian Federation," Putin said, per Reuters. This does not mean, as early news reports suggested, that 755 US diplomats will be expelled from the country entirely — but it is a serious cut to America’s diplomatic presence in Russia.
The order is retaliation, plain and simple. On Thursday night, Congress overwhelmingly passed a new package of sanctions on Russia as punishment for the nation’s interference in the US election. Late on Friday, the Trump administration announced its intention to sign the sanctions bill into law. The diplomatic staffing order is Putin showing he hasn’t been cowed.
This is very much not normal; countries do not generally force other countries to limit their diplomatic presence so sharply, absent a major crisis in relations. It suggests instead that the pro-Russian stance Trump has taken, at least rhetorically, is not paying off — and that US-Russia relations are likely to keep getting worse for the foreseeable future.
Read more: Russia is retaliating against new US sanctions in a big way - Vox