White House: Trump Will Sign Russia Sanctions Bill

By Andrew Osborn

By Andrew Osborn

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that Moscow reserved the right for additional restrictive measures, which could have an impact on Washington's interests, as part of reciprocal steps to U.S. recent policies.

"Lavrov confirmed that our country is still ready to normalise bilateral relations with the USA and to cooperate on the most important global issues", Russia's foreign ministry said after a phone call between the two top diplomats.

Russian state television channel Rossiya 24 said over 700 staff would be affected but that was not confirmed by the foreign ministry or the U.S. embassy. Russian Federation will also close down the embassy's recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

US Ambassador John Tefft "expressed his strong disappointment and protest" at the Russian retaliatory move on Friday, as cited by Russian news agencies and Western media.

The bill's sanctions are meant to penalize Russian Federation for its alleged interference in the election as well as for its aggression in Ukraine and backing of Syria's government in a bloody civil war.

Russian Federation has retaliated to new USA sanctions by telling Washington to cut its diplomatic staff to 455 and barring the use of some properties.

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

Russia's Foreign Ministry says Minister Sergei Lavrov has told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone call that Moscow was forced to respond to the new package of US sanctions and that it is still willing to improve ties with Washington.

The first sanctions were put in place under previous President Barack Obama in the wake of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 by Russian Federation, for violating the territorial integrity of neighboring Ukraine.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has given mixed answers on whether Trump will sign the bill. The ministry is also suspending the U.S. Embassy's use of two sites - a storage facility and a dacha on an island in the Moscow River.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the U.S. had until September 1 to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the number of Russian diplomats left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December. That was over an alleged Kremlin hacking and influence campaign to sway the 2016 USA elections in favour of Trump.

The bill underwent revisions to address concerns voiced by American oil and natural gas companies that sanctions specific to Russia's energy sector could backfire on them to Moscow's benefit.

Lavrov said that Russian Federation was "still ready to normalize bilateral relations with the US and to cooperate on the most important global issues".

Even if Trump had chose to veto the bill, Congress could likely have mustered enough votes to override him.

If confirmed that Russia's move would affect hundreds of staff at the USA embassy, it would far outweigh the Obama administration's expulsion of 35 Russians in December.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was also seizing a Moscow dacha compound used by USA diplomats to relax from August 1 as well as a US diplomatic warehouse in Moscow.

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