Russian Federation could look at imposing economic counter-sanctions against the United States, the former official said, saying he thought that retaliation in Ukraine or Syria was less likely because it was more likely to lead to a US counter response. "The latest events show that in well-known circles in the United States, Russophobia and a course toward open confrontation with our country have taken hold".
But in a stunning rebuke by his own party in Congress, Trump must now sign or veto a bill that constricts his ability to amend the sanctions policy while under the cloud of three investigations into his team's alleged ties to Russian Federation. But President Vladimir Putin at the time delayed the retaliatory steps in what officials said was an olive branch to the incoming Trump administration.
A federal law enforcement investigation and multiple U.S. congressional probes looking into the possibility that Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation, have made it harder for Trump to open a new chapter with Putin.
Republicans on Capitol Hill had downplayed the notion that Trump would actually consider vetoing the sanctions bill.
The bill, which includes a provision that allows Congress to stop any effort by U.S. President Donald Trump to ease existing sanctions on Russian Federation, will now be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto.
The ministry said the number was being cut to 455 diplomats.
On Thursday, US Senate approved a bill that would impose sweeping sanctions on Russia and seeks, in particular, to target companies that invest in Russian energy projects. The U.S. Embassy said Tefft had expressed his "strong disappointment and protest".
In December, President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russians described as "intelligence operatives" and seized two Russian diplomatic compounds in retaliation for Russia's interference in the 2016 residential election.
Moscow said it would cut the US diplomatic corps even further if the USA decides to expel more Russian diplomats. "I believe that Putin still believes there might be something he can do with Trump". The first face-to-face meeting between Trump and Putin, in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month, failed to yield a breakthrough.
Russia had greeted Trump's election victory with "euphoria", confident it would usher in a new era of close cooperation and an easing of sanctions, said Angela Stent, director of Georgetown University's Center for Eurasian, Russian and Eastern European Studies.
"So if the United States side decides to move towards further deterioration, we will answer, we will respond in kind".
Russian and European analysts say the sanctions reflect an ulterior motive whereby the European Union, denied access to Russian liquefied gas, will be forced to purchase energy products from the US instead.
A spokesman for the European Commission said Friday that European officials will be watching the USA effort closely, vowing to "remain vigilant".