Lavrov says Moscow had to react to United States sanctions

Russia calls US sanctions vote 'serious step' toward wrecking chances of improved ties

The Russian Foreign Ministry demanded Friday that the United States cut its diplomatic staff in Russia and said it would seize two US diplomatic properties in a sharp response to a new sanctions bill the US Congress passed a day earlier.

In the statement, the ministry said, "Any new unilateral actions by the USA authorities to reduce the number of our diplomats in the United States will be met with a mirror response".

Brussels has fired back at the new USA sanctions against Russian Federation, saying an "America first" approach does not mean European Union interests can come last.

But the Kremlin's hopes for better relations under Trump haven't materialized as the probes of alleged Russian meddling in the US vote have widened in recent months. The bill passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 419 to 3.

The Russians also suspended the right of the US Embassy to use the storage facilities on Dorozhnaya Street in Moscow and the country house in Serebryany Bor.

The officials added that the president has been reluctant to proceed with the bill, even after it was revised last week to include some changes that American and European companies sought to ensure that business deals were not stifled by new sanctions.

But senators said he would be unwise to do that because the whopping majority in Congress would see that veto overturned. The sanctions also included the closure of two Russian compounds, in Maryland and NY, used for intelligence purposes.

Before a bill becomes law it must first obtain the signature of the president.

It's not the first time the United States has implemented punitive measures against Russian Federation.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly denied the conclusions of us intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered using cyber warfare methods, has threatened retaliation against the legislation.

"What we are seeing is merely anti-Russia hysteria". "There may be unexpected things in this set [of measures]", Klintsevich said.

"We have taken a big step forward, and I believe we have been able to convince our partners in Washington to act together in the government and in the legislature", Mr Schaefer told reporters.

The Russian foreign ministry on Friday slammed what it called "extreme aggressiveness of the U.S.in worldwide affairs" and said Washington was using the "absolutely far-fetched pretext of Russia's interference in its internal affairs" to carry out "flagrantly anti-Russian actions".

The bill would affect a range of Russian industries and might further hurt the Russian economy, already weakened by 2014 sanctions imposed after Russia annexed Crime from Ukraine.

"We're sending a message to Moscow", Kinzinger said.

"We are not giving in to emotions", Ryabkov said.

"We can not afford any more delay", he said.

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