Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Sunday, July 30 that the U.S. must cut 755 staff from its U.S. diplomatic missions in Russia by Sept. 1.
The Russian Foreign Ministry first announced the news on Friday, ordering the U.S. Embassy to reduce employees from 1,210 to 455. Putin confirmed the number in an interview on state TV July 30, ABC reports.
The cuts would make the diplomatic missions in the U.S. and Moscow the same size, both 455, Putin told Rossiya 1 Network, according to the USA Today.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 98-2 to approve a new package of tougher financial sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and the White House has said that Trump will sign it. The new legislation was mainly approved to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the United States elections, which the country has denied.
The large cuts seem to be a retaliatory response from Russia over the new American sanctions.
Putin said he did not want to take any more measures, but said he could not see ties with the U.S. changing “anytime soon” BBC reports.
Russia also said it would seize vacation properties and a warehouse used by U.S. diplomats.
Both the United States and Russia have expelled diplomats in the past as well, but only a few dozen.
Before President Obama left office, he expelled 35 Russian diplomats and ordered the seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds in response to Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. elections, USA Today reports.