Did Trump just thank Putin for taking away American jobs?

11 Aug 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

In a somewhat bizarre move, US President Donald Trump appears to have thanked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for taking away American jobs.

Trump said Putin's decision to oust 755 staff members at US missions in Russia would help America reduce its payroll.

This has caused dismay among those working in the US State Department.

It's unclear whether Trump's comments were meant in jest.

In context: Trump thanks Putin for expelling US diplomatic staff

31 Jul 2017Putin responds to US sanctions, expels 755 American diplomatic staff

On July 31, Russian President Vladimir Putin retaliated against fresh US sanctions by announcing that 755 staff members must quit US diplomatic missions by September 1.

This would bring the total US staff in Russia to 455, same as Moscow's compliment in America.

The BBC's Laura Bicker said this is believed to be the largest expulsion of diplomats from any country in modern history.

11 Aug 2017Did Trump just thank Putin for taking away American jobs?

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Trump's statement

Trump told reporters that he's "very thankful" to Putin because "we're trying to cut down our payroll." He said there's no reason for the US diplomats to go back to Russia. "We're going to save a lot of money," Trump added.

WhatState Department contradicts Trump, calls Putin's move "regrettable"

The US State Department said Putin's move was "regrettable and uncalled for," a contradiction to Trump's expression of gratitude.

The department has released information on how the drawdown will be handled.

Sources said the expelled US diplomats would likely be deployed in other locations.

The locally hired Russian staffers would be fired but likely receive severance payments.

OutrageState Department officials express outrage over Trump's statement

Trump's statement hasn't gone down well among State Department employees, many of who feel ignored or badly treated by the current administration.

"I'm not even angry, it's just saddening," one official said.

"This is so incredibly demoralizing and disrespectful," a senior US diplomat serving abroad said.

Another official said: "This statement is naive and shortsighted. It sends a terrible signal to local employees everywhere."