Russia to cut down US diplomatic staff in a tit for tat response

Russia to cut down US diplomatic staff in a tit for tat response
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MOSCOW - A Russia Foreign Ministry official says Moscow may order Washington to slash the number of its diplomatic personnel across Russia to 300 people or even fewer in a tit-for-tat measure against the US .

The statement was made Wednesday by the head of the Foreign Ministry’s North America Department, Georgy Borisenko, during an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency.

It came following warnings by Russian officials of their intention to respond to the September shutdown of Russian diplomatic missions across the US , including its consulate in the west coast city of San Francisco.

Earlier, Moscow ordered Washington to cut the number of its diplomatic and technical staff working throughout Russia by almost 60 percent — reducing the number to 455 — during a diplomatic row that began by the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in the final days of the former president Barack Obama's administration in December 2016.

The dispute intensified when the US Congress imposed new sanctions on Moscow in July.

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