Russian Federation is considering reducing the number of personnel working at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow if the United States doesn't return two diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York, Foreign Ministry officials said Friday.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Undersecretary of State Tom Shannon are scheduled to meet on Monday for much-anticipated talks that Moscow abruptly canceled last month in response to new Ukraine-related sanctions announced by the Trump administration.
A White House official on Thursday said the administration had to "move on" from Russia's 2016 election interference, allowing for the possibility that the United States could return two compounds on U.S. soil to the Russian government.
Those sanctions were in addition to sanctions imposed on Moscow by the U.S., the European Union, and other Western governments since 2014 over Russia's encroachments against Ukraine, namely, the Crimea annexation and the war in Donbass.More news: Oppn urged Centre to resolve Doklam issue diplomatically: MEA
The Obama Administration had taken such a decision, because the compounds were allegedly being used for intelligence-related purposes that might have plausibly connected to the interference campaign by the Russian government. "Simply put, the Russian government has done nothing to deserve renewed access to these compounds".
The compounds in question include facilities in Maryland's Eastern Shore and Long Island, New York.
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the matter last week, but have yet to come up with a solution.
The FBI, as well as the intelligence committees of both houses of the US Congress, are presently investigating whether Trump's associates were in contact with Russian officials during the 2016 US presidential elections.
"We're not looking to create new enemies".
Zakharova described Obama's moves as a "provocation" intended at derailing Trump's attempts to improve bilateral relations.More news: White House Pressures Congress to Soften Russia Sanctions Bill
Zakharova thus stated that the previous U.S. administration had left a lot of unsolved issues and headaches for the new chief executive's team.
"The seized compounds have not been returned yet".
"If the United States partners do not understand differently, we will at some point have to act in this direction", Zakharova said at her weekly briefing, noting that the "long pause" on the issue has "dragged on".
"If there is no progress, we will have to take retaliatory measures", she added. "The number of staff at the USA embassy in Moscow exceeds the number of our embassy employees in Washington by a big margin". "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".
Peskov was responding to comments made to CNN by Sebastian Gorka, a Trump adviser, that appeared to link the compounds' return to Russia's behavior in Syria.More news: Donald Trump Jr. in the Russiagate hot seat: Editorial Board Roundtable