US President Donald Trump's comment on Russia's decision to expel US diplomats points at the fact that this decision is painful for Washington, Dmitry Novikov, the first deputy chairman of the International Affairs Committee of Russia's lower house of parliament, told Sputnik Friday.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Thursday, Trump welcomed the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin to cut down the number of staff of US diplomatic missions in Russia as it would help the US government save money.
"Trump had to comment on the event somehow and that is why he used such a playful manner, when in fact this stresses that the decision taken by the Russian side is quite painful for Washington," Novikov said.
Alexei Chepa, the deputy head of the State Duma committee, said that the decision demonstrated the despair of the US President.
"Trump says that because he found himself in an uncomfortable position as he understands that this move by our Foreign Ministry was inspired by [former US President Barack] Obama's administration in December 2016 and by recent Congress sanctions… But he realizes that that this response on our part will cause significant harm to the United States, that is why he had nothing else to do but to react in a kind of a playful manner," Chepa explained.After US Senate approved a bill that imposes sweeping sanctions on Russia and seeks, in particular, to target companies that invest in Russian energy projects, that was later signed into law by President Donald Trump, the Russian Foreign Ministry suspended the use of all US Embassy warehouses and its compound in Moscow and also offered the US to cut down the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people by September 1.
In December 2016, the administration of former US President Barack Obama imposed a set of punitive measures against Russia, including the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the closure of the two Russian diplomatic compounds. The actions were taken in response to Moscow's alleged interference in the US presidential election, which Russia has repeatedly denied.Back in December, Putin decided not to respond to sanctions imposed by the outgoing US administration and act in accordance with the ties built with the new US leadership. However, since then, the diplomatic property hasn't been returned. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow would take retaliatory measures against Washington if the situation with Russia's diplomatic property in the United States was not resolved.
US diplomatic missions in Russia include Moscow-based embassy and three consulates general — in Saint Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg.