Kremlin wants United States to return Russian compounds without strings

Jerome Frank
July 16, 2017

When pressed Thursday by CNN's Jake Tapper on why the Trump administration is considering returning two Russian compounds to USA soil, White House aide Sebastian Gorka pointed to the importance of giving "collaboration, cooperation, a chance".

In December 2016, former President Barack Obama ordered 35 Russian officials to leave the United States and shut down two Russian owned estates that the American security establishment believed were used as a spy base for the Kremlin. However, the Russian side is threatening to cancel it again if the matter of diplomatic properties that were seized in December of 2016 under outgoing President Obama's orders, is not going to be dealt with in some substantive way.

President Trump and Putin last week discussed the two diplomatic compounds but did not reach an agreement.

Veselnitskaya was said to be a "Russian government attorney", and her meeting with Trump Jr. has added fuel to suspicion in the United States that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia during the election.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova declared on Friday that "there are too many" U.S. intelligence officers in the American Embassy in Moscow, as cited by state-run news agency TASS.

The Trump administration wants to give collaboration and cooperation with Russia a chance, and this is the reason why it is considering to return the Russian diplomatic compounds that were seized by the previous Obama government a year ago, a presidential aide has said.

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.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Russia was considering reprisals, but kept the details secret.

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

"If they don't discontinue this practice, then it will be hard to build relations".

"The seized compounds have not been returned yet".

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also denounced the notion of returning the compounds last week. She also criticized the United States for not issuing visas to diplomats who are supposed to replaced the expelled staff.

The irony, missed in much the reporting, is that whether she was part of some Russian "active measures", dirty-tricks campaign, or merely a sharp opportunist who knew the best way to get an audience with the Trump team, the Kremlin gains, either way.

"The number of personnel at the USA embassy in Moscow significantly exceeds the number of our personnel working in Washington. One of our options, apart from a tit-for-tat expulsion of Americans, would be to even out the numbers".

Sebastian Gorka, a senior White House adviser to President Donald Trump, told CNN on Friday that it was time for the U.S. -Russia relationship to "move on".

Russia's leadership, including Vladimir Putin, have dismissed time and again the accusations that Moscow meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections - in spite of the findings announced by the USA intelligence community.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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