U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he was “thankful” to President Vladimir Putin for expelling U.S. diplomats from Russia because the move would significantly reduce pay-roll costs at the U.S. mission there.
The Russian government announced its decision on July 28 to cut the number of U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 from 1210 by Sept. 1.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also announced that U.S. embassy would be barred access to warehouses and cottages in Moscow’s suburbs beginning in August.
Moscow said the move was in response to a U.S. Senate vote on July 27 that would impose harsher sanctions on Russia. On August 2, President Donald Trump signed the sanctions bill into law.
Asked how he felt about Putin’s order to greatly reduce the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia, Donald Trump said, “I want to thank him because we're trying to cut down our payroll.”
“As far as I'm concerned, I'm very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. We're going to save a lot of money.”
The order to expel the diplomats is a heavy blow to U.S.-Russia relations, that have been significantly worsening since the case about Russia’s meddling in the US elections was made public.