Russian official threatens retaliation over US sanctions

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - A top Russian diplomat on Sunday lambasted the United States Congress for voting to sanction Russia, and warned of retaliation by Moscow.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov referred to a bill passed by Congress on Thursday to sanction his country as "weird and unacceptable," and said it was "the last straw."

"If the U.S. side decides to move further towards... deterioration, we will answer. We will respond in kind. We will ... retaliate," he said.

RELATED: Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective

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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
June 7: The 2016 primary season essentially concludes, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive party nominees
June 9: Donald Trump Jr. — along with Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort — meets with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
June 9: Trump tweets about Clinton's missing 33,000 emails
July 18: Washington Post reports, on the first day of the GOP convention, that the Trump campaign changed the Republican platform to ensure that it didn't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces
July 21: GOP convention concludes with Trump giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination
July 22: WikiLeaks releases stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee
July 25: Democratic convention begins
July 27: In final news conference of his 2016 campaign, Trump asks Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing"
August 4: Obama CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia's interference. "[I] told him if you go down this road, it's going to have serious consequences, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for our ability to work with Russia on any issue, because it is an assault on our democracy," Brennan said on "Meet the Press" yesterday.
October 4: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says his organization will publish emails related to the 2016 campaign
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta's emails
October 7: Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence release a statement directly saying that Russia is interfering in the 2016 election
October 31: "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove," Trump says on the campaign trail
November 4: "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks," Trump says from Ohio.
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Ryabkov's comments came after Moscow ordered the United States on Friday to cut hundreds of diplomatic staff and said it would seize two U.S. diplomatic properties as a response to the new sanctions that were approved nearly unanimously by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Ryabkov confirmed that the seizing of the properties was in response to the bill, but declined to say what other measures Russia is willing to take if the United States continues to apply pressure.

"We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal," he said. "It would be ridiculous on my part to start speculating on what may or may not happen. We are not gamblers. We are people who consider things very seriously and very responsibly. But I can assure you that different options are on the table and consideration is being given to all sorts of things."

The United States-Russia relationship has become increasingly strained in the wake of U.S. intelligence agencies conclusion that the Kremlin interfered in the U.S. election to discredit Hillary Clinton and help President Donald Trump win the election.

Russia has denied meddling in the U.S. election.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former director of the FBI, is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and whether or not Trump's campaign may have colluded with Russia - an allegation that Trump and his associates have staunchly denied. (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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