The Russian Foreign Ministry reportedly threatened on Friday to expel U.S. diplomats and close American compounds in the country if the Trump administration does not return two Russian diplomatic compounds in the U.S. that were seized last year.
CBS News said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters Moscow “will have to take reciprocal measures” if the issue regarding the compounds was not resolved.
The two compounds located in Maryland and New York were seized by the Obama administration last year to punish Russia for meddling in the U.S. elections.
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the two compounds at the Group of 20 summit last week but were unable to reach a final agreement.
The report comes after four Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (N.Y.), urged a senior State Department official in a letter not to return the compounds.
White House aide Sebastian Gorka on Thursday appeared to acknowledge that the administration is weighing returning the compounds to Russia, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper the White House wanted to “give collaboration, cooperation, a chance.”
The Washington Post first reported the administration was considering giving the compounds back in May, saying the White House considered returning the compounds in exchange for permission to restart construction at the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly told Russian diplomats the compounds are no longer related to future construction of the consulate.
A former Obama administration official told the Post the former administration had “no intention” of ever returning the compounds.