US President Donald Trump has thanked his Russian counterpart – Putin for the expulsion of 750 American diplomats and officers from his domain. His reason is that this move will save the US money that may have been used in the operation of the diplomatic base.
As expected, the comments received a backlash from current and former US officials which viewed Trump’s response to the expulsion as: “grotesque, unprecedented, and unexpected.”
Trump, on getting the report that the expulsion has been ratified and will be effected in September, said:
“I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll”
He made this statement on Thursday, thereby breaking nearly two weeks of silence on Putin’s July 30 order cutting the American embassy and consular staff by almost two-thirds.
“There’s no real reason for them to go back… We’re going to save a lot of money.”
The State Department had no immediate reaction to the comments Trump made to reporters while on vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. However, speaking on condition of anonymity, a veteran US diplomat who has served in Russia said the State Department was “horrified and rattled” by Trump’s remarks.
It should be recalled that Putin’s reaction came on the heels of new sanctions imposed by the US Congress and reluctantly signed into law by Trump.
Despite the complexion of the expulsion, most of those affected are Russian staffers of the consulate.
Congressional committees and a special counsel are investigating the conclusions reached by American intelligence agencies that Putin-led Russia interfered in the 2016 American elections campaign by hacking and using other methods to help Trump win the election.
They are also looking into possible collusion between the Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials. Russia has repeatedly denied meddling in the election and Trump denies any campaign collusion. However, Trump’s son is claimed to have been in contact with Russia during the election campaign.
The expulsion stance taken by Putin and the subsequent response by Donald Trump has left a lot to be desired for a host of high-ranking American officials and it remains to be seen how this brouhaha will be sorted at the end of the day.
Image Credit: Kremlin.Eu