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Russian Federation signs deal to use Syria air base for 49 years

29 Juillet 2017

A ministry statement sets a September 1 deadline to "bring the number of diplomatic and technical staff at the US Embassy in Moscow, the consulates general in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, into strict correspondence with the number of Russian diplomats and technical staff now working in the United States, by Sept. 1, 2017".

Russia had originally threatened the ouster of diplomats and seizure of property in December after the US ordered 35 Russian envoys out of the USA and seized two embassy compounds outside NY and Washington in protest of alleged Russian meddling in the election.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was also seizing a Moscow dacha compound used by U.S. diplomats for recreation, from 1 August, as well as a United States diplomatic warehouse in Moscow.

The move comes after Russia has repeatedly expressed anger at Washington barring its diplomats access to two compounds in the U.S. in December a year ago, under Barack Obama, in response to suspected Russian meddling in the United States election.

The Senate backed the bill, which also imposes sanctions on Iran and North Korea, by a margin of 98-2 with strong support from Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

The White House did win some changes to the legislation since its first passage by the House and Senate, including ones sought by energy companies that could be penalized, it was clear that Trump plans to sign the final product only grudgingly.

"Recent events indicate that Russophobia and the policy aimed at open confrontation with our country have reigned supreme in some circles in the US", the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by TASS news agency.

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"The passage of the new law on sanctions shows with all obviousness that relations with Russian Federation have become hostage to the domestic political battle within the US", the Foreign Ministry said in a statement announcing the moves.

Earlier on Thursday, a senior White House aide said Trump could veto the pending legislation in order to push for a tougher deal, an idea that drew skepticism in Congress because his administration had spent weeks lobbying for a weaker bill.

"We are behaving in a very restrained and patient way, but at some moment we will need to respond", Putin said at a news conference after talks with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto.

It said Trump had familiarized himself with earlier versions of the bill and had held talks on its crucial provisions.

Russians could strike out at the United States in any number of ways, continuing to target the USA diplomatic presence in Russia and U.S. properties there, and escalating its harassment of U.S. diplomats.

"This means that the total number of personnel employed by USA diplomatic and consular establishments in the Russian Federation has been reduced to 455 people. We stand for worldwide law, for the fair, consistent finding of necessary solutions to world problems, which can be found only together", Ryabkov said. "They're going to hurt us on issues like North Korea, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba", he said.

Russian Federation signs deal to use Syria air base for 49 years