Is this the end of the honeymoon phase for the United States and Russia?

The US embassy in the European country has one month to reduce 2/3 of its staff

USA and Russia

Despite the friendly tone that the United States’ president, Donald Trump, held towards his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during his presidency campaign, the relationship between the two countries keeps on declining. Last Sunday, Russia notified the US government that they have until the 1st of September to reduce its embassy by 755 employees (66% of the total).

It seems as if said demand was made so that the Russian embassy in the United States could possess the same amount of personnel as the North American one in the European country.

If there was something that the international community was optimistic about when it came to the Trump administration, was the collaboration of these two world powers. Syria, ISIS, North Korea, and the Nuclear Arsenal were some of the topics that were expected to show improvement as consequence of the betterment of said relations. However, Trump's good will alone was not enough.

Putin also ordered that starting on the 1st of August, the US staff would not be able to enter into an important storehouse property of the American embassy located in the Moscow nor into a mansion in an exclusive neighborhood within the same city. The Russian leader stated to the media that his government “had hopes that the situation would somehow change, but, apparently, if it changed, it won’t be soon (…) I thought it was the time to show that we’re not going to leave it without answers”.

This announcement occurred 2 days after the White House affirmed that president Trump would sign off on new sanctions against Russia; it was already voted on in Congress. These sanctions would go as far as to punish third parties that do business with the Russian energy sector. The president of the United States has made it well know that he doesn’t agree with said clause but knows that even if he disapproves, Congress would be able to override his veto.

However, Putin is not the only against these sanctions. Germany labeled the pack of sanctions as illegal because it affects the companies that work with the Russian pipelines that provide gas to Europe. The German Minister for Economics and Energy, Brigitte Zypries, ask the European Union to take actions against this subject.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson admitted that the bilateral relationship with Russia are “under considerable stress”. However, Tillerson assured that Washington and Moscow are trying to work together in common interests.

Recent sanctions between US and Russia:

March 18th, 2014: Russia annexed Crimea, a Russophobe territory that was part of Ukraine. This event obliged the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe to impose sanctions against the Russian Federation.

March 20th, 2014: Russia imposed entry bans on nine U.S. lawmakers and officials in retaliation to Washington's sanctions over Crimea (in the list was senator John McCain, former president candidate).

October 7th, 2016: U.S. government accused Russia of hacking the Democratic presidency campaign to interfere with elections.

December 31st, 2016: Obama's administration imposes sanctions (including expelling Russian’s diplomats) to Russia due to "election hacking".

July 28th, 2017: US Congress approves new sanctions against Russia due to hacking during the presidency campaign.

July 30th, 2017: Putin orders to reduce the US diplomatic staff number in the country.

Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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