Reacting to new American sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin today said 755 US diplomats must leave Russia and warned ties with Washington could be gridlocked for a long time. Earlier, the Russian foreign ministry had demanded to decrease US diplomatic presence in Russia by September to 455 -- the same number Russia has in the US.
"More than a thousand people were working and are still working" at the US embassy and consulates, Putin said in an interview with Rossia-24 television. "755 people must stop their activities in Russia."
The President added that an upturn in Russia's relations with US could not be expected "any time soon".
"We have waited long enough, hoping that the situation would perhaps change for the better," he said.
"But it seems that even if the situation is changing, it's not for any time soon," Putin added.
On Thursday, the US Senate passed a legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia for its presumed interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as for its military activity in eastern Ukraine and its 2014 annexation of the Crimea.
Sanctions were also imposed on Iran and North Korea with an overwhelming majority.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday had voted 419-3 to approve the text of the bill, which would impose additional sanctions on Moscow. President Donald Trump had obejcted to fresh sanctions against Kremlin.