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20 years of USA trade with Russian Federation
31 July 2017, 12:54 | Katrina Lee
Eglin Air Force Base
"Lavrov confirmed that our country is still ready to normalise bilateral relations with the USA and to cooperate on the most important global issues", Russia's foreign ministry said after a phone call between the two top diplomats.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin didn't wait for Trump's reaction to the sanctions bill because "the form in which it emerged from the Senate had greater significance".
Moscow has already responded, ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russian Federation and closing the U.S. Embassy's recreation retreat.
The U.S. Senate voted almost unanimously on July 27 to cement into law sanctions on Russia despite objections from President Donald Trump and a promise of retaliation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The legislation, which also punishes Iran and North Korea, takes aim at Moscow for meddling in the 2016 United States election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.
"To waive sanctions on Russia, Trump would have to send Congress a report explaining and justifying his decision, and lawmakers would then get 30 days to decide whether to allow it". But in a statement late Friday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had "reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it".
"We have something to retaliate with: the personnel of the United States embassy in Moscow greatly exceeds the number of our embassy staff in Washington", Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated.
Some former officials said Russia could take other steps, such as seeking to help Russian-backed forces seize more ground in eastern Ukraine or to try to limit United States air operations in Syria, while others said any reaction might be more muted.
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The ministry said the United States had until 1 September to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the number of Russian diplomats left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December. Russian Federation will also close down the embassy's recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities. The US Embassy said the ambassador had expressed his "strong disappointment and protest".
The bill targets Russia's aggression in Ukraine and Syria, citing corruption, human rights abuses and weapons sales.
The Kremlin had previously said it would not impose any sanctions on the US until Trump signs the bill.
The bill underwent revisions to address concerns voiced by American oil and natural gas companies that sanctions specific to Russia's energy sector could backfire on them to Moscow's benefit.
In December 2016, 35 Russian diplomats were expelled and two retreats in NY and Maryland used by Russian diplomats for recreation and receptions were closed by the administration of outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama over accusations of alleged Russian hacking during the presidential election.
Lavrov said that Russian Federation was "still ready to normalize bilateral relations with the USA and to cooperate on the most important worldwide issues".
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