July 17 (UPI) — The Kremlin announced Monday that any conditions attached to the return of two seized Russian compounds in the United States — part of an ongoing diplomatic feud — were unacceptable.
The confiscation of Russian government-owned mansions in Maryland and on Long Island in New York, regarded by Russia as a retreat for diplomats but actually containing intelligence-gathering equipment, were among sanctions imposed on Russia in 2016.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned last month that the Kremlin could retaliate if the compounds were not returned.
“It is best to immediately return our property, otherwise Russia has the right to come up [with a] tit-for-tat response in relation to American property in Russia. I want to confirm that the retaliatory measures are in the works,” she said.
President Donald Trump has said that removal of the sanctions, including the return of the properties, will not occur until issues regarding Russia and its relationships in Ukraine and Syria are resolved.
“We have repeatedly said that we think any conditions are unacceptable. We think that the diplomatic property must be returned without any conditions and talks,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday. “What is happening is — de facto and de jure — a violation of international law. Contacts are happening between the foreign policy departments [of Russia and the United States]. The Kremlin, as it is, does not really participate but as you know this issue was raised by President [Vladimir] Putin during his G20 meeting with President Trump in a quite straightforward manner.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon are expected to meet in Washington on Monday to discuss the matter.