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Russia vows harsh response to destructive US measures

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow will give a tough response to US measures aimed at hurting it as a diplomatic spat between the two countries escalates.

Speaking to students at Russia’s top diplomacy school on Friday, Lavrov said Moscow “will have a tough response to the things that come totally out of the blue to hurt us and are driven solely by the desire to spoil our relations with the United States.”

His comments came a day after the United States ordered Russia to shutter its consulate in San Francisco and close offices in Washington and New York within 48 hours in response to Moscow’s drastic reduction of US diplomatic personnel in Russia last month.

The Russian foreign minister went on to complain that Washington had only given Moscow two days to comply with its demands. He; however, hinted that his country might look at ordering further reductions in US embassy staff.

“We’ll react as soon as we finish our analysis,” Lavrov said.

He blamed former US President Barack Obama for the exchange of sanctions between Moscow and Washington.

“I want to say that this whole story with (the two countries) exchanging tit-for-tat sanctions was not started by us. It was started by the Obama administration to undermine US-Russia relations and to not allow [President Donald] Trump to advance constructive ideas or fulfill his pre-election pledges,” the top Russian diplomat said.

In a Thursday statement, US State Department’s spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said the United States would require Russia to close the three offices by Saturday “in the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on July 30 that the American diplomatic mission in Russia must reduce its staff by 755 employees.

In making the announcement, Putin said Moscow had run out of patience waiting for relations with the United States to improve.