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Trump administration may return Russian compounds in New York, Maryland – media

The Trump administration is moving toward handing back to Russia two diplomatic compounds in New York City and Maryland which were shut down by the Obama administration, the Washington Post wrote.

According to the newspaper, "the Trump administration is moving toward handing back to Russia two diplomatic compounds, near New York City and on Maryland's Eastern Shore, that its officials were ejected from in late December as punishment for Moscow's interference in the 2016 presidential election." "Early last month, the Trump administration told the Russians that it would consider turning the properties back over to them if Moscow would lift its freeze, imposed in 2014 in retaliation for US sanctions related to Ukraine, on construction of a new US consulate on a certain parcel of land in St. Petersburg," the Washington Post said.

However, "two days later, the US position changed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at a meeting in Washington that the United States had dropped any linkage between the compounds and the consulate," the Washington Post wrote citing "several people with knowledge of the exchanges."

"Before making a final decision on allowing the Russians to reoccupy the compounds, the administration is examining possible restrictions on Russian activities there, including removing the diplomatic immunity the properties previously enjoyed. Without immunity, the facilities would be treated as any other buildings in the United States and would not be barred to entry by US law enforcement, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters," the Washington Post added.

Meanwhile, Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov said on Wednesday that Moscow expected Washington to review the decision concerning sanctions against Russia's property. According to him, "these measures (sanctions against the Russian property - TASS) will not remain unanswered." Ushakov pointed out that Russia was determined to follow the principle of mutuality in this and other matters. He added that at the same time, the Kremlin took into account the current domestic situation in the United States.

In late December 2016, the Obama administration introduced a new round of sanctions against some Russian companies, the Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Agency of Russia's General Staff. Besides that, US authorities expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland. Washington attributed these sanctions to alleged cyberattacks against US political institutions, accusing Russia of being involved. However, Moscow fully rejected all allegations.

[Source: Itar Tass, 01Jun17]

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