Moscow said the move was in response to a U.S. Senate vote on July 27 that would impose harsher sanctions on Russia. On August 2, President Donald Trump signed the sanctions bill into law.

Asked how he felt about Putin’s order to greatly reduce the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia, Donald Trump said, “I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll.”

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

The order to expel the diplomats is a heavy blow to U.S.-Russia relations, that have been significantly worsening since the case about Russia’s meddling in the US elections was made public.