Russia demands return of property from US
17 July 2017 world-news
Russia is demanding the immediate return of diplomatic properties seized by the Obama administration after claims Moscow hacked the US election.
The Kremlin has accused the United States of setting conditions on the return of the compounds in New York and Maryland.
Former president Barack Obama ordered their seizure in December as well as the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.
Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in election hacking.
Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov will meet US undersecretary of state Thomas Shannon to try to thrash out a solution on Monday.
His boss, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, was also reported as saying on a visit to Belarus that “anti-Russian feeling” in the United States meant it was not certain that Moscow and Washington could agree on key global issues.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We consider it absolutely unacceptable to place conditions on the return of diplomatic property, we consider that it must be returned without any conditions and talking.”
President Vladimir Putin raised the issue with Donald Trump when they met for the first time at the G20 summit in Hamburg this month.
Mr Obama said he was ordering the ban due to US intelligence reports of Russian hacking and an alleged influence campaign to sway the US presidential election in Mr Trump’s favour.
He said Moscow was using the compounds for “intelligence-related purposes”.
The Russian President held off from retaliating at the time and said he would wait to see how Mr Trump reacted after he came into the White House.
However, hopes that Mr Trump will soon act on his campaign pledges to boost relations have faded as any ties to Moscow have become toxic.
The White House has faced a maelstrom of US investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Russia is intensifying its threats that it could now retaliate by blocking a country house and a storage facility used by the US Embassy in Moscow.
Mr Lavrov said last week: “If Washington decides not to solve this issue, we will have to take counter actions.”
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova complained that the US was also refusing to issue visas for Russian diplomats to replace those expelled.