Russia cuts U.S. diplomatic staff

seizes 2 Moscow properties in retaliation for sanctions

MOSCOW – Russia will scale down U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people and seize a U.S. warehouse and a recreational compound known as a “dacha” in Moscow in retaliation for Washington’s anti-Russian actions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

“We ask the U.S. side to bring the number of diplomatic and technical staff working in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and to the consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, in exact correspondence with the number of Russian diplomats and technical staff in the United States,” it said in a statement.

This means that the total number of personnel employed in U.S. diplomatic and consular offices in Russia should be reduced to 455 people by Sept. 1, the statement said, without disclosing the current number.

Moscow will also suspend the use of a warehouse and a dacha in Moscow’s prestigious district of Serebryany Bor from Aug. 1 by the U.S. Embassy, it said.

If Washington further cuts the number of Russian diplomats in the United States or takes other unfriendly measures, Russia reserves the right to give a mirror response, said the ministry.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has personally authorized the Foreign Ministry statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.