The Russian Foreign Ministry reportedly threatened on Friday to expel U.S. diplomats and close American compounds in the country unless the Trump administration returns two Russian diplomatic compounds in the U.S. that were seized in 2016.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told CBS News that if the compounds were not returned, Moscow “will have to take reciprocal measures.”
The compounds at issue, located in Maryland and New York, were seized by the Obama administration last year to punish Russia for interfering in the U.S. presidential election.
At their meeting during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, last week, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the two compounds, but were unable to reach a final agreement.
Four senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), recently sent a letter to a senior State Department official, urging the department not to return the compounds.
During a Thursday appearance on CNN, deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka signaled that the administration is considering returning the compounds to Russia, telling Jake Tapper that the White House wanted to “give collaboration and cooperation a chance.”
In May, The Washington Post reported that the administration was considering returning the compounds to Russia in exchange for permission to resume construction at the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly told Russian diplomats that the issue of returning the compounds was no longer related to future construction of the consulate.
A former Obama administration official told the Post that Obama had “no intention” of returning the compounds.
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