Russian Federation orders cut in USA diplomats in reaction to sanctions

U.S. President Trump calls on Republican Senators to vote on a healthcare bill to replace the Affordable Care Act at the White House in Washington

Reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election have put a damper on hopes for better ties that the Kremlin had pinned on Trump's presidency.

Trump had expressed a desire to improve relations with Russian Federation during his presidential campaign, but so far his enthusiasm to mend ties has been clouded by the investigation into Russia's 2016 election meddling and potential ties between Trump campaign staff members and the Kremlin.

At a Berlin press conference, the German Committee on East European Economic Relations said the possibility of European counter-sanctions against the US should be kept open as "a very last option" if firms in Europe were affected.

The Russian Foreign Ministry complained of growing anti-Russian feeling in the United States, accusing "well-known circles" of seeking "open confrontation".

Asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin had authorized the move, Peskov said such measures are "impossible without the President's permission".

The bill now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump's approval. But the bill is expected to garner enough support in both chambers to override any veto.

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.

A White House official said the bill would be reviewed, "but we strongly support sanctions against all three countries".

Moscow has told the USA to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, and is also halting the use of embassy storage facilities in the capital, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. "This all runs counter to the principles of worldwide law".

"We have expressed our strong disappointment and protest", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Most U.S. diplomatic staff, including around 300 U.S. citizens, work in the main embassy in Moscow, with others based in consulates in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

"The Russian side is suspending the use of all storage facilities on Dorozhnaya Street in Moscow, and a cottage in Serebryaniy Bor by the US Embassy in Russia as of August 1", the ministry said in a statement.

The legislation also cracks down on Iran and North Korea for activities including their missile development programs and human rights abuses, including seeking to punish foreign banks that do business with North Korea.

Putin, who has repeatedly denied meddling in the campaign said Moscow would only decide on how to retaliate once it had seen the final text of the proposed law.

"Congress has the power to override [a veto], and he would be overridden", said New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.

The Foreign Ministry's action comes one day after the prospect of new punishments clearly rankled the Kremlin.

It accused the United States of using the law to "create unfair competitive advantages for the USA in the global economy" and said its actions breached worldwide law.

The retaliatory move comes after the US Congress approved new sanctions against Russian Federation.

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