Although the initial news alerts in Russia said that Mr. Putin had ordered 755 Americans out of the country, the president had actually ordered an overall staff reduction. Not all of those leaving their posts would be Americans expelled from the country.
Part of the confusion stemmed from the fact that the Russian president used a Russian verb meaning to âpack up,â when referring to his action.
In making the initial announcement on Friday, Russia announced that the American diplomatic staff would have to be reduced to 455, matching the number of Russians employed at diplomatic missions in the United States.
From the outset there was some confusion about how the Russians arrived at that number, so it was not clear how many Americans would actually have to leave Russia. Mission employees include scores of workers erecting a new building as well as translators, drivers and a large number of support staff.
Russia has additional options available for further measures against American interests, Mr. Putin warned, without going into details. But for the moment, he said, he is opposed to using them. âI hope it will not come to this,â he said.
Russia has been accused of interfering in the American presidential election, including releasing hacked emails embarrassing to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Congress is also investigating the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, with Mr. Trumpâs oldest son, Donald J. Trump Jr., recently confirming that he met with a Russian lawyer linked to the government who wanted to discuss removing an earlier round of sanctions.
Mr. Putin has denied any Russian interference in the American election, saying that anti-Russian sentiment in the United States was being used to drive an internal political battle.
On Friday, the White House announced that President Trump would sign the law passed by Congress last week that…