Lawmakers contemplate 'legislative answer' to new United States anti-Russian sanctions

Frederick Owens
October 13, 2017

But Russia's foreign ministry said Lavrov stressed to Tillerson that "the lawlessness continued by USA officials runs counter to declarations made at the highest level in Washington about intentions to normalise the bilateral relations, which have hit an all-time low".

Also on Thursday, the Russian parliament's lower house, the Duma, cancelled a visit to the USA by a group of lawmakers planned for this month, a Duma spokeswoman told AFP.

The figure of 455 was meant to mirror the total number of Russian diplomats working in the United States, but also included Russian nationals working at the United Nations in New York, Borisenko, head of the Foreign Ministry's North America Department, told RIA.

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova earlier told reporters that Russian flags had been "torn down" from the buildings of the general consulate in San Francisco and Russia's trade mission in Washington.

"Such steps only complicate US-Russian dialogue", Antonov said in televised remarks.

"The flags at the former Russian consular properties in San Francisco were respectfully lowered and are safely stored within each of the buildings", the official said on Wednesday.

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Earlier on October 11, Russia's Foreign Ministry repeated a threat to demand further cuts in the number of USA diplomatic personnel in Russian Federation, also with the goal of achieving parity, after ordering a cut in US personnel to 455, effective last month.

"If they haven't appreciated this, we have the full right to reduce. the number of USA diplomats", he said, adding that Moscow could stop taking Russian U.N. staff into account when calculating what parity between the two countries meant. The demand followed a vote to tighten sanctions on Russian Federation.

A third Russian government property in NY was a suite in commercial building and did not have a flag, the State Department official added.

US President Donald Trump initially pledged to improve ties, but those promises have been overshadowed by allegations of collusion between Russian Federation and members of Trump's election campaign.

Washington ordered Moscow to vacate the consulate and Russian trade annexes in Washington and NY at the beginning of September, steps meant to produce parity in the sizes of the Russian and USA diplomatic missions.

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