'Modest Reaction': Russian Deputy FM on Moscow's Step to Cut US Diplomatic Staff

© AFP 2023 / Mladen ANTONOV / A general view taken on July 31, 2017 shows the US embassy building in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin on July 30, 2017
A general view taken on July 31, 2017 shows the US embassy building in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin on July 30, 2017 - Sputnik International
Russia is not guided by the faulty logic of responding in kind to the United States' sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Wednesday, describing Moscow's reaction to Washington's hostile policies as "moderate."

MOSCOW (Sputnik)  — Russia considers its demand for the United States to reduce the number of its diplomatic members of staff in Russia a portioned reaction to US sanctions, Ryabkov told Japanese and Chinese media outlets in an interview.

“This is a very moderate, portioned and modest reaction to what the United States has done in encroachment on Russia’s fundamental political and economic interests,” he said, adding that Moscow is not following a misguided logic of "measures — countermeasures."

The interview comes after the US Treasury Department added four Russian citizens and one Russian company to its North Korea-related sanctions list on Tuesday. The sanctions freeze all of the individuals’ and entities’ assets subject to US jurisdiction and generally prohibit US persons from doing business with them.

The US and Russia have been in a standoff over the diplomatic staff and property since the end of ex-US President Obama's term.

This photo taken on May 7, 2013 shows Russian and the US flags running up as the US Secretary of State arrives at Moscow Vnukovo Airport - Sputnik International
No 'Cold War' Between Russia, US Despite Tensions – Russian Deputy FM
The Russian Foreign Ministry on July 28 suspended the use of all US Embassy warehouses and its compound in Moscow and also requested the US to cut down the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people by September 1. The move came amid a new US anti-Russia sanctions bill and follows a series of restriction measures imposed by Washington since 2014. It is similar to Washington's decision to expel 35 Russian diplomats and suspend the use of diplomatic assets by Moscow in late 2016.

Commenting on the possible return of Russia's diplomatic property in the United States, Ryabkow said the talks on the issue between Moscow and Washington are neither being held at the moment nor are expected in the future.

"The possibility for the return of this property without a separate decision of the US Congress is reduced, in fact, to zero, so we are not conducting any negotiations on this topic," he said.

The deputy minister noted that the administration of Barack Obama and a group of politicians "in a fit of emotions… created new unprecedented circumstances in our relations… Therefore, I do not foresee any negotiations on this issue."

Ryabkov said Washington has placed sanctions on a total of close to 400 Russian citizens and 200 entities overall.

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