The European Union considers the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Moscow and Washington a “bilateral issue” and is keeping its distance, a European Commission Spokesperson told EURACTIV.com.
The US Congress recently voted to expand sanctions against Moscow for New US sanctions for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, an allegation that Russia denies, as well as the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In response to the sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would expel 755 American diplomats from his country’s territory.
According to Moscow, the number of the US diplomatic staff in Russia should be equalised with the Russian diplomats in the US which is now 455.
The US administration has until 1 September to pull back its diplomatic staff, according to the Kremlin.
Asked by EURACTIV how this fresh diplomatic spat could affect the EU, a European Commission spokesperson declined to comment, insisting that it is a “bilateral issue”.
US reaction not decided yet
Speaking at the ASEAN Regional Forum in the Philippines on Monday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that “meddling in the elections is certainly a serious incident”.
Tillerson added that the US had not made a decision regarding how to respond to Russia’s request to remove US diplomatic personnel but there will be “a response to the matter by 1 September”.
“We have our differences, we’re going to have to continue to find a way to address those,” he emphasised.