Former President Obama seized two Russian diplomatic properties and kicked out Russian diplomats before leaving office. The move was punishment for Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently responded similarly, by removing 755 US diplomats and also seizing 2 US diplomatic properties.
The Russian Move
Vladimir Putin did not respond immediately to former President Obama’s actions against him. Instead, he chose to wait and see if he might receive more favorable treatment from the Trump administration.
Last month, congress codified Obama’s sanctions that were imposed in response to Russian election interference. Congress passed a sanctions bill that requires congressional approval if the President seeks to roll back any sanctions on Russia. The bill passed with nearly unanimous support and was signed begrudgingly by the President.
After the congress passed the sanctions package, but before it was signed by the President, Putin announced that Russia had lost patience waiting for the relationship with the US to improve. He then took retaliatory action for the Obama imposed sanctions, seizing 2 diplomatic properties and expelling 755 diplomats and staff.
President Trump Responds
Putin’s decision to oust 755 US diplomats and staff from Russia is a dramatic move. It would be expected that Putin would receive strong condemnation from the President of the US.
Trump reacted to Putin’s announcement saying, “I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll.”
He went on to say “There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”
That’s right, the President of the United States thanked a foreign adversary for his punishment of the US. He appreciates that the Russian President helped him cut costs. He told reporters this while at his Bedminster, NJ Golf Resort, on the government’s dime.