United States has abandoned common line on Russian sanctions: Zypries

Russian Federation has warned new United States sanctions against Moscow approved by the House of Representatives will take already battered ties to a new low, and said it was close to taking retaliatory measures of its own.

Russia had originally threatened the ouster of diplomats and seizure of property in December after the USA ordered 35 Russian envoys out of the US and seized two embassy compounds outside NY and Washington in protest of alleged Russian meddling in the election.

"However, the latest events evidence that Russophobia and policy of open confrontation with our country have established themselves in certain circles in the United States", the statement read.

Russian Federation ordered the United States to cut its diplomatic staff by September 1 and said it was seizing a dacha compound and warehouse used by U.S. diplomats.

Putin, at a news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, also spoke about former President Barack Obama's order last December to seize Russian diplomatic property in the United States and to expel 35 Russian diplomats.

In a statement on Friday, Russia's foreign ministry said: "The US is stubbornly taking one crudely anti-Russian step after another, using the utterly fictitious pretext of Russian interference in its internal affairs". But six months into Trump's presidency ties between the two countries remain tense, and the much-anticipated first meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin early this month did not seem to produce any tangible results. Now, it's on President Donald Trump to sign the sanctions into law.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the USA had time until September, 1 to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the same number of Russian diplomats it said were left in the U.S. after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December. It added that it was seizing a compound and warehouse used by USA diplomats.

But despite the European Union sanctions and Europe's criticism of Moscow on other fronts as well as Ukraine - including allegations that Russian spies are meddling in Western elections - Russia remains a crucial business partner for Germany.

"Hiding behind its "exceptionalism" the United States arrogantly ignores the positions and interests of other countries", said the ministry. "The gist of a diplomat's work does involve contacts, clarification of our stance, clarification of those repercussions that might stem from [adoption of the bill slapping more sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea]", TASS cited Chizhov as saying.

Obama also ordered Russia's Foreign Ministry to leave two compounds it owns in Maryland and NY.

Putin claimed that the U.S.is using Russia-bashing as domestic political fodder.

"This goes beyond all reasonable bounds", Putin said.

"The adoption of the new sanctions law showed clearly that relations with Russian Federation have become hostage to a domestic political battle in the United States", the Foreign Ministry said.

"The talk is still ongoing about some serious measures as, for instance, announcing that this USA law is invalid within the European Union", he said in a televised interview with the Rossiya'24 channel.

Vanessa Coleman

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