Putin Retaliates – Kicks Out U.S. Diplomats, Seizes Properties … EU Supports Russia

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Jul 28 2017
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President Vladimir Putin had tried everything in his power to become United States’ friend. He even refused to retaliate after former President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on Russia last December 2016 over unproven allegations that the Russian president personally directed covert cyber attacks against the U.S. electoral system, resulting in Hillary Clinton’s shocking defeat.


In his executive order before leaving the White House, Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats. He also seized two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York. Refused to sink to “Kitchen Diplomacy”, the Russian Embassy in UK merely responded to Obama’s aggression with a tweet – a picture of a “duck“, and a word “lame”.


It was fabulously chaos then. The Democrats blamed the White Americans for not voting Clinton. They blamed the young millennial for supporting third party candidates instead of Clinton. They blamed Electoral College for not betraying voters and vote for Clinton instead of Trump. Heck, they even blame White Women for voting a male-Trump and not a female-Clinton.


More than 6 months after Trump’s inauguration, the issue is still alive and kicking. The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed sweeping legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia. The bill, which gives Congress new powers to block Trump from easing sanctions against Russia, passed the Senate 98-2, and passed the House 419-3.


Trump now has 10 days, excluding Sundays, to decide whether to sign the bill into law or veto the legislation. President Trump is expected to obediently sign the bill (which also includes new sanctions on Iran and North Korea) currently on his desk because the Congress could easily override his veto by a two-thirds majority.


Effectively, fellow Republicans are forcing their president to pick a fight with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Relations between the two nations, already at a post-Cold War low, have deteriorated even further after U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russia of trying to meddle in last year’s U.S. presidential election – something Moscow flatly denies and Washington unable to prove.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Meets US President Donald Trump 

The Republicans’ move is seen as an extreme aggression by the Russians. The U.S. is essentially an arrogant bully who would bulldoze laws to serve its own selfish interest, despite lack of evidence to support its wild allegations. And Putin has decided not to be nice anymore with the Americans. Running out of patient, Putin personally approved a retaliation – kicking out U.S. diplomats in Moscow.


One day after the U.S. Senate approved a measure expanding economic sanctions against Kremlin; the Russian Foreign Ministry has told the United States Embassy to reduce its diplomatic and technical staff members in Russia to 455, the same number of Russian diplomats it said were left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December.


The U.S. Embassy is given until September 1 to remove its excess diplomats. According to a source at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, there was around 1,100 U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia, including Russian citizens and U.S. citizens. In addition to the main embassy in Moscow, the United States also maintains consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Kicks Out US Diplomats In Moscow

There were at least 300 U.S. citizens working in the main embassy in Moscow, with others based in consulates in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. Starting on August 1, the Russia will also seize two buildings belonging to the U.S. – a diplomatic warehouse on the Dorozhnaya Street and a dacha compound along the Moscow River where staff members walk their dogs and hold barbecues.


Interestingly, not all of U.S. closest allies celebrate America’s action. The European Union, already extremely upset with President Donald Trump, had delivered a stern warning to the U.S. over the plan to impose new sanctions on Russia. Previously, the EU had agreed with the U.S. over sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. But not this time!


Here’s why the EU is foaming at the mouth protecting Russia. The new bill would allow the U.S. to sanction any company involved in the maintenance or development of Russia’s energy export pipelines. Therefore, the EU fears the latest measures could hit companies that are involved in the financing of a new pipeline – Nord Stream 2 – that would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Russia-German Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline Project

The Germany Foreign Ministry said it would be “unacceptable for the United States to use possible sanctions as an instrument to serve the interests of U.S. industry policies.” Parroting Germany’s anger, France called the US bill “unlawful” due to its “extraterritorial reach,” saying it could impact Europeans if enacted.


EU Chief Executive Jean-Claude Juncker said – “If our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. ‘America First’ cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.” While there’s nothing significant Russia could do against the U.S., except booting U.S. diplomats and seizing their buildings, the same cannot be said about the EU.


Europe could invoke special EU regulations to shield itself against the US’ policies, dispute the measure at the World Trade Organization, or even “impose outright bans on doing business with certain US companies.” This, of course, would start trade wars between the Americans and the Europeans, which could turn to be very ugly indeed.


Vladimir Putin, again, has proven to be a brilliant tactician. By establishing a common economic interest and dependency on Kremlin’s gas, the Russian president has essentially trapped the EU to choose Russia over America. In this particular U.S.-European standoff, of course, it was the Congress who is the troublemaker, not Donald Trump. But the EU doesn’t care.


Like it or not, the Republicans’ dirty trick means the ball is in Trump’s court, shielding themselves against future attacks that the political party bends over for President Putin. However, there’s a catch for a full-blown U.S.-European trade wars – all 28 members of EU must agree and sign off before the special regulations could be invoked.


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