Putin Livid With Trump, Seizes Two U.S. Properties In Russia, Orders US State Dept. To Cut Staff In Moscow Embassy

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Trump is caught now between a rock and Putin.  Congress has cut him off at the pass and he cannot do any of Putin’s bidding, which means Trump family and Kushner family loans from Russia may be called in, and also Trump’s alleged sex tapes in Russia may be leaked. Russia took its first steps on Friday to retaliate against proposed American sanctions for Moscow’s suspected meddling in the 2016 election, seizing two American diplomatic properties in Russia and ordering the United States Embassy to reduce staff by September.
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The moves, which had been threatened for weeks, came a day after the United States Senate approved a powerful measure  to expand economic sanctions against Russia, as well as against Iran and North Korea.

The bill, mirroring one passed by the U.S. House of Representatives  on Tuesday, now goes to President Trump for his signature.

The latest move by the Kremlin strikes another blow against the already dismal diplomatic relations between the two sides, with each new step moving Moscow and Washington further from the rapprochement anticipated a few months ago.

“Russia’s response to the new sanctions was inevitable,” Aleksei Pushkov, a Russian legislator and frequent commentator on international affairs, wrote Friday on Twitter. “There is a high probability that this will not be the end of it.”

Starting on Tuesday, Russia will block access to a warehouse in Moscow used by the United States Embassy and to a bucolic site along the Moscow River where staff members walk their dogs and hold barbecues.

The number of American targets inside Russia for Kremlin retaliation is limited, particularly if Moscow is worried about damaging the investment climate or about other economic fallout.

External arenas, however, are a different matter. Moscow might have shown some restraint in eastern Ukraine or in Syria because of the expectation of improving ties with Washington, but now, the Kremlin may be looking for places to challenge the United States.

Referring to the vote by Congress to toughen the sanctions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “This yet again attests to the extreme aggressiveness of the United States when it comes to international affairs.”

Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin, said the Russian leader had approved the retaliatory measures despite saying a day earlier that he would wait for the final version of the law before taking any such steps.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP; AFP
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