U.S. administration considers return of Russian diplomatic property

Posted July 16, 2017

He was responding to questions about decision of the Trump Administration to return a pair of Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and NY that were seized from the Kremlin as retribution for Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

In December, then-President Barack Obama ordered the seizure of Russian diplomatic compounds in NY and Maryland and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats he said were spies, in a series of measures aimed at punishing Russia for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, said in an interview on CNN's "The Lead" with Jake Tapper that the White House was considering a number of actions in the spirit of "cooperation".

"There are too many employees of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon's espionage unit working under the roof of the American diplomatic mission whose activity does not correspond at all with their status", Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova said on Friday according to TASS.

Trump, he said, pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin "on multiple occasions" about election tampering when they met last week at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg.

Earlier this week, Russia's Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was considering retaliatory measures against the United States over the seizure of two of its diplomatic facilities on American soil, which were shuttered at the end of Barack Obama's Administration.

The Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman warned that his country "will have to take reciprocal measures" if the issue of the confiscated compounds is not resolved.

"There are too many CIA and Pentagon intelligence employees under the roof of the American diplomatic mission whose activities do not correspond to their status", Zakharova said.

Meanwhile, the President of the United States - and he alone - is the only man or woman on the face of the earth, besides Vladimir Putin, who says that maybe it wasn't Russian Federation, after all.

Zakharova described Obama's moves as a "provocation" intended at derailing Trump's attempts to improve bilateral relations.

"Washington not only did not rescind the decision to expel our employees, but also refuses to issue visas to those who must travel as replacements", Zakharova said at a weekly briefing.

"We consider the use of children as human shields by radical opposition members to be barbarous and unacceptable", the diplomat added. "Since the seizure of these compounds, we are unaware of any evidence or assessment that the treatment of USA personnel in the Russian Federation has markedly improved".