Russian President Vladimir Putin expelled more than 700 United States diplomats from his country on Sunday and said there will be no improvement in U.S.-Russian relations anytime soon.
The Agence France-Presse broke the news Sunday afternoon:
#BREAKING 755 US diplomats must leave Russia, President Putin announces— AFP news agency (@AFP news agency) 1501435496.0
#UPDATE No improvement in US-Russian ties any time soon, President Putin says— AFP news agency (@AFP news agency) 1501436291.0
Putin told a Russian news station on Sunday, according to RT.com:
The American side has made a move which, it is important to note, hasn't been provoked by anything, to worsen Russian-US relations. [It includes] unlawful restrictions, attempts to influence other states of the world, including our allies, who are interested in developing and keeping relations with Russia.
We've been waiting for quite a long time that maybe something would change for the better, we had hopes that the situation would change. But it looks like, it's not going to change in the near future... I decided that it is time for us to show that we will not leave anything unanswered.
The move makes good on a promise the Russian president issued last week after Congress overwhelmingly passed new sanctions against Putin's government in response to Russian interference in last year's election.
The Senate approved the measure with a vote of 98-2 while the House approved the measure with a vote of 419-3. The legislation has been sent to President Donald Trump's desk where the White House said Trump plans to sign it.
In addition to expelling the 755 U.S. diplomats, the Russian government also said they were seizing two U.S. diplomatic compounds in the country.
In all, there are about 1,100 U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia, both U.S. citizens and Russian citizens, according to the New York Post.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that the "retaliation" is long "overdue."
"I think this retaliation is long, long overdue," Ryabkov said. "We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal. It would be ridiculous on my part to start speculating on what may or may not happen. I can assure you that different options are on the table and consideration is being given to all sorts of things, both symmetrical or asymmetrical, to use a very popular word in the world of diplomacy."