Russian President Vladmir Putin countered Congressional-approved sanctions against Russia for hacking during the U.S. election by booting 755 members of the U.S. diplomatic staff.
Despite contentions by President Donald Trump that others could have orchestrated hacks against the Democratic National Committee (DNC), other Democratic organizations and election systems, even as the U.S. intelligence community has laid the blame on Russia, a veto-proof majority in Congress last Thursday passed legislation that would levy harsher sanctions on the country and eliminate the president's ability to lift them unless lawmakers give their approval.
President Barack Obama already had closed Russia's diplomatic properties in Maryland and New York and sent staff packing in 2016 as part of an initial, wide-ranging response to the nation-state's meddling in the election in an effort to exert influence.
“We have waited long enough, hoping that the situation would perhaps change for the better,” the AFP news agency quoted Putin as saying. “But it seems that even if the situation is changing, it's not for any time soon.”
Trump in June was considering returning Russia's diplomatic properties but taking away diplomatic immunity on the properties if the properties are returned. Negotiations to give back the properties previously had been tied to Russia abandoning a freeze on the building of a U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg, but that contingency apparently was dropped, reports said.