U.S. begins removing furniture, equipment from Moscow diplomatic property

| Updated: Aug 02, 2017 08:48 IST

Moscow [Russia], August 2 (ANI): The United States has reportedly begun to take furniture and equipment out of a diplomatic property in Moscow, according to the local media. The U.S. diplomatic staff used the property at times to hold parties for students, journalists and other diplomats. The development comes after Russian President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Sunday that 755 American diplomats would be expelled from Moscow by September 1. The expulsions were ordered on Friday when Russia ordered the United States to reduce the number of their diplomats in the country as a mark of retaliation for new sanctions against Moscow passed last week by the U.S. Congress. The Russian Foreign Ministry had issued a statement saying the number of American diplomats in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and its four consulates across the country should be reduced to 455 by September 1, which is the same as the number of Russian diplomats currently serving in the U.S. It also said it would seize two U.S. diplomatic properties, including cottages just outside Moscow's city center and a warehouse facility in Moscow. The embassy properties must be handed over by August 1. Russia's move came a day after the U.S. Senate passed a bill expanding economic sanctions on Russia, as well as North Korea and Iran. The sanctions bill would slap new sanctions on Russia, and would set into law penalties former president Barack Obama's administration imposed on Moscow in December, for its meddling in the US election last year and for its aggression in Ukraine. The bill also would give Congress veto power to block any easing of those sanctions. The growing tensions between Russia and the U.S. over the sanctions bill come in the wake of the congressional investigations into Russian hacking into the 2016 election, which the U.S. intelligence services have said was an effort to influence the election in Trump's favour. (ANI)