In a rather unusual statement, U.S. President Donald Trump thanked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for expelling U.S. diplomats.
Last month, Russia ordered the U.S. to cut the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia by more than 700 people. The move was a response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats and seizure of Russian diplomatic property in the U.S. by the Obama administration last year, as well as the latest round of anti-Russian sanctions.
“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,” Trump explained “There’s no real reason for them to go back.”
Despite the meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 summit in Germany in July, relations between U.S. and Russia have continued to deteriorate, after Congress passed a law imposing new sanctions on Russia.
Putin, as well as other high-ranking Russian officials said they did not expect U.S.-Russia relations to improve anytime soon.
After Trump took office in January, Moscow hoped to work towards better relations with the U.S., but much to Kremlin’s frustration, the U.S. establishment largely prevented Trump from pursuing a dialogue with Russia.
Trump himself wrote on Twitter that relations with Russia “is at an all-time and dangerous low”.
Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can't even give us HCare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2017