Donald #trump does not shy from controversy, and his recent comments on Russia President #Vladimir Putin have caused a backlash. On Friday, the #United States president said that he was being sarcastic when he said that Vladimir Putin's order that the U.S. cut its diplomatic staff in Russia would help Washington save money.

Trump handles Putin with kid-gloves

When Journalists asked Trump whether his comments were meant to be sarcastic, the president said that for the United States to reduce its payroll, then yes, he probably was. Trump did not however explicitly condemn Russia's move.

On Thursday, Trump finally broke his two weeks of silence on Vladimir Putin's order, issued on 30 July, that the United States reduce its embassy and consulate workforce by at least two thirds.

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Responding to the order, Trump was quoted saying that he was thankful that Putin had let go a significant number of U.S. diplomatic staff, as the US would now have a smaller payroll. Trump added that he could see no reason for the workers to go back to Russia.

Trump's remarks were met with shock and criticism, as they evoked previous instances where he has reacted with disinterest to Putin's actions. Trump's handling of Putin has been in stark contrast to his usually abrasive treatment of members of his administration. He has publicly berated Attorney General Sessions and Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader.

Revenge over the eviction of Russian diplomats

In reaction to new sanctions imposed by the United States Congress, Putin ordered Washington to reduce its diplomatic and technical workers by seven hundred and fifty-five.

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Putin ordered that his instructions be carried by September 1. Many of the people who are likely to be affected by Moscow's orders are liable to be local Russian staffers. Putin's orders were also seen as retaliation against former US President Barack Obama's decision to expel thirty-five Russian diplomats from the United States last December. Obama ordered the expulsion of the Russian diplomats over U.S. intelligence reports that the Kremlin had interfered in last year's presidential election.

Trump revealed that he had held discussions with his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to come up with an appropriate reaction to Putin's orders. The president stated that the U.S. would have a response by September first.

Trump has been consistent in his calls for closer ties between the U.S. and Russia. He has been reluctant to criticize Putin, while also refusing to wholly agree with intelligence reports that Putin's government meddled in last year's presidential election.