US State Dept. Not to Disclose Number of Diplomats in Russia Amid Property Spat



The US Department of State refrains from disclosing the current number of diplomats in Russia amid the ongoing row over the Russian diplomatic property in the United States, a department official said.

An informed source told on Friday that the United States Embassy in Moscow and consulates general are expected to cut up to 300 of their staff members from the current 600-700 people.

The Russian Foreign Ministry suspended the use of all US Embassy warehouses and its compound in Moscow and also offered the US to cut down the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people by September 1. 

Moreover, the ministry said that it reserves the reciprocal right to hit US interests in response to the US sanctions bill.

"It is our policy to not comment on the number of individuals serving at our missions abroad," the official said.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that Russia has tools to check on September 1 the number of US diplomats in the country and whether it corresponds to Moscow’s demands.

"It is important for us to state on September 1, and we have corresponding tools to check this, that the numbers of members of staff of US diplomatic missions in Russia do not exceed 455," Ryabkov told Rossiya 1 channel.

US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft has expressed his "strong disappointment and protest" over the countermeasures regarding a US diplomatic compound and US diplomats in Russia.

The US Senate approved a bill in a 98-2 vote on Thursday to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea and limit US President Donald Trump's ability to lift the restrictions on Moscow. 

The bill passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 419 to 3. 

The measures target Russia's defense, intelligence, mining, shipping and railway industries, and restrict dealings with Russian banks and energy companies.

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