Shortly after the United States government announced a fresh round of sanctions imposed against the Russian Federation, the Kremlin responded with an order to sharply reduce the breadth of American diplomatic presence in Moscow. According to a dispatch published by Russia Today, an online news publication funded by the Kremlin, the American Embassy has been ordered to cut down its staff to 455 members. Furthermore, US diplomats can no longer use assigned storage space in Moscow.
An official statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry specified that two facilities used by the American Embassy would be seized on August 1, and the excess diplomatic staff should clear out of the country by September of this year. The sanctions imposed by the US Congress specifically target individuals believed to be closely associated with the Kremlin. Oil exports and the Russian arms trade will be impacted by these new sanctions, which the Kremlin believes have been implemented to create an American economic advantage. The legislative action passed by US lawmakers includes sanctions against Iran and North Korea, the latter which happened to test a ballistic missile just hours after the bill was approved by the Senate. In the United Kingdom, national newspaper The Independent reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin was likely running out of patience with his American counterpart. Political analysts believe that Trump’s strange relationship with Putin is not helping advance Russian interests despite the best personal efforts of the bumbling US President.
Cold War 2.0
It is important to remember that U.S. President Donald Trump is reportedly under Special Counsel investigation due to suspected political connivance with Russia. Moreover, members of the Trump family as well as political associates are also being investigated. The US Congress is also looking into possible interference by Kremlin operatives during the presidential election that put Trump in the White House. Although the investigation was started by former President Barack Obama, it has intensified during the current administration.
A few weeks ago, the Kremlin had previously suggested that no retaliation would be carried out until Trump’s signature enacted the sanctions. Now that Putin has taken early action, some analysts think that the so-called Cold War 2.0 is intensifying as the Ukrainian conflict continues and the U.S. military continues to increase its presence in Eastern Europe. With regard to the Syrian conflict, American and Russian cooperation is not likely to be affected by this diplomatic row.