- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was “very thankful” that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered dramatic cuts at US diplomatic missions in Russia.
“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 because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump said during a press conference from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”
Putin in July ordered that the US reduce its staff at the US Embassy and consulates in Russia by 755, including diplomats and technical staff members, many of them Russian, in response to new US sanctions imposed on Russia because of its interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s comments Thursday were his first directly addressing Russia’s action. Though he had previously remained silent on the issue of diplomatic staff, Trump criticized the sanctions imposed on Russia when he signed them into law, saying the bill he was signing included “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions.”