Russia has reacted strongly to the plans of the United States to slap further sanctions on it and President Vladimir Putin wants removal of 755 employees working in US embassies located in Russia. The reasons for imposing fresh sanctions by the U.S. are because of the reported interference of Russia in 2016 US president election and annexation of Crimea.

Era of Cold War returns

According to New York Times, Russia has reacted to fresh U.S. sanctions by asking the American diplomatic mission in Russia to reduce its staff by 755 employees. He has set a target date as Sept.

1 and the intention is to cause discomfort for Washington and its representatives in Moscow. It is estimated that there are slightly more than 1,000 employees engaged in the missions in various capacities and 755 of them will have to go leaving 455. This number would correspond to the number of Russians employed at diplomatic missions in the United States.

Many of the employees in the U.S. embassies are Russians assigned to carry out routine tasks like translation, processing visa applications, cooking and driving. They constitute the bulk of the 755 who would have to leave and that could create problems for the Americans who will remain. Absence of these employees could disrupt the normal flow of work because of language problems during interaction with locals.

Moreover, Russia has taken over some American properties in Russia as a retaliatory measure against the United States who had seized two country estates in December that were, reportedly, being used for espionage by the Russians.

Russia-U.S. rift widens

In an interview with a Russian TV channel, President Vladimir Putin has remarked that Russia was keen to improve relations with the United States but, from present indications, that may not happen soon.

His thinking was probably based on the first ever meeting he had with Donald Trump during the G-20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany.

President Putin must have hoped for a better relationship because, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump had expressed a desire to mend relations with Russia. That could have led the Russian president to presume that the meeting would herald in a new era in their relations and the fresh round of sanctions must have come as a bolt from the blue.

He has retaliated by asking for drastic slashing of employees in US diplomatic missions in Russia.

However, in his opinion, all is not lost. He has denied any Russian interference in the American election, and has not entirely abandoned the idea of better ties with the United States. He has in mind areas where both Russia and the United States could continue or expand their cooperation. He has identified some of these areas as the field of space exploration, de-escalating the war in Syria and shared oil projects.