Trump administration is taking steps to restore Russia’s two diplomatic mansion, located near new York and on the East coast in Maryland, where the Russians were evicted in late December of last year, in this way punishing Moscow for its intervention in the presidential election of 2016.
December 29, President Obama said that “Russian personnel use these premises for intelligence purposes,” and gave Russia 24 hours to release them. In addition, Obama expelled from the US, 35 Russians, calling them “special agents intelligence”.
At the beginning of last month, trump said the Russian, I’d think about returning them, if Moscow will reverse its decision in 2014, the decision to freeze construction of a new Consulate in St. Petersburg. The construction was halted in response to American sanctions imposed over Ukraine.
Two days later, the American position has changed. Secretary Rex Tillerson at a meeting in Washington said Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that the United States will not link the return of the real estate with the resumption of construction, as reported by people familiar with the content of that conversation.
On Wednesday in Moscow, the responsible employee of the Kremlin, Yuri Ushakov said that Russia “takes into account the difficult domestic political situation for the current administration,” but reserves the right to take retaliatory action for the “expropriation” of Russian property, “if the American side is not correct somehow taken the steps.” This was reported by the news Agency Sputnik.
Senior assistant Tillerson R. Hammond (R.C. Hammond) said: “the United States and Russia have not come to any agreements.” According to him, the next working meeting on the level below the Secretary of state will be held in June in St. Petersburg.
Before you make a final decision on the admission of Russian in these houses, the administration intends to study the possible constraints on their activities in this area, and deprive the property of diplomatic immunity, which she used before. Without such immunity to these mansions will be the same as they do to any other building in the United States, that is, there will be able to enter the law enforcement officers. This information sources shared on the condition of anonymity to delicate diplomatic issues.
Any concessions Moscow might cause a scandal because Congress and the special Prosecutor conducting an investigation in respect of the administration and former members of the staff of trump, suspecting them of having links with Russia.
The administration changed its official position after the Russian media have recently suggested that Kislyak, who needs to leave Washington after Ambassador since 2008, on the proposal of the Kremlin can take the new post of Deputy Secretary-General of the UN counter-terrorism activities.
Kislyak during the election campaign and the transfer of power in the United States met and talked to former assistant at trump national security Michael Flynn, with the Advisor and son-in-law trump Jared Kushner, the attorney General Jeff Sissom and other officials. It is known that he is interested in appointment to this position. Last month the Russian State Duma approved the candidacy of his mate and Deputy foreign Minister Anatoly Antonov. Officials in Moscow say that Russian President Vladimir Putin will officially inform trump about the new in July, when they will meet in Hamburg at the summit of the group of 20. This is the first time trump with Putin as President of the United States.
First Deputy of the Secretary General on counter-terrorism must approve the General Assembly of the UN, which is conducting a major reorganization and for the first time in many years, introduces a new position at this level.
Russia will probably qualify for this post as she is the only among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, whose representatives occupy high positions in the organization. Former senior us diplomat Jeffrey Feltman (Jeffrey Feltman) holds the post of Deputy UN Secretary-General for political Affairs. Approximately equal positions in the field of peacekeeping operations, humanitarian Affairs and economy take, respectively, citizens of France, Britain and China.
The decision about who will take the post, will make the UN Secretary-General antónio Guterres (Antonio Guterres). However, it is expected that Russia and the United States will inform it in advance about their preferences.
Kislyak repeatedly denied allegations the U.S. media that he was a spy. Responding Sunday to a question about how do those us intelligence agencies, former Director of national intelligence James Clapper told CNN: “given the fact that he oversees a very aggressive intelligence network in our country — and in Russian even after the expulsion of 35 agents here are more intelligence officers than any other presented in the United States — it’s hard to believe that he is somehow insulated from this activity or don’t know what’s happening”.
Russian real estate — and the estate on long island with an area of 14 acres (nearly six hectares) and several buildings in a fenced area along the Corsica river in Maryland belongs to Moscow since the Soviet Union. According to the ownership certificate issued by the state of Maryland in 1995, the former USSR has transferred the ownership of the territory in the state of the Russian Federation for one dollar.
Russia says it used those having diplomatic immunity of the area as a garden for the rest of the Embassy staff and the UN, as well as for official events. But U.S. authorities, based on the data of aerial photography and observations from the time of the Reagan administration believe that this property is used for intelligence purposes.
Last year, when the Russian special services began to excessively harass U.S. officials in Moscow, puncturing their tires, getting into their home, and once even grabbing and throwing on the ground at the American Embassy, were there through the main entrance, the Obama administration threatened to close these houses are.
At the meetings, devoted to such disgusting treatment of American diplomats, the Obama administration stated that it will take such a step if the attacks in Moscow will be discontinued. Then Moscow lifted the ban on the construction of a new Consulate in St. Petersburg to replace the old, which Americans believe is unfit for work because of the installed there of Russian spy equipment. Earlier, Russia banned the U.S. to use the allocated in the city’s land and abolished the guarantee of the construction made is in connection with the imposition of sanctions over its military intervention in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
USA has not fulfilled its threat to close the mansions. In late December, when American intelligence told about the facts of intervention in the elections and in response to lasted in Moscow for prosecution, Obama has ordered the closure of these houses with adjoining territory, expelling diplomats. “We had no intention to return it”, — said about this property former high-ranking official from the Obama administration.
Trump, who was at that time in his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago, dismissive about accepted administration of measures, telling reporters: “I think life goes on.”
It’s amazing, but Moscow did not react. It was later revealed that Flynn in a telephone conversation with Kislyak told him not to retaliate, hinting that the administration trump the American policy will change.
The Kremlin has clearly stated that the problem with his estate occupies an important place in the agenda of bilateral relations. Russia has repeatedly condemned the “seizure” of property, calling such actions illegal violation of diplomatic conventions.
May 8, under Secretary for political Affairs Thomas Shannon (Shannon Thomas) went to new York to meet with his Russian counterpart, Deputy foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to discuss “bilateral issues” as well as some “stimulus” and “complaints”.
Ryabkov raised the issue of the mansion, and Shannon spoke about the problem in Saint-Petersburg and the attacks on Americans. It is suggested to consider the work of diplomats and property in the countries to each other separately from political issues such as Syria, and said that it is necessary to start with a clean slate and seek some compromises.
Russia refused, saying that the capture of the mansions is a hostile action, and that this issue should be resolved before the settlement of other diplomatic problems. In an interview with TASS, Ryabkov said that Moscow was alarmed by Washington’s actions, which “continues to work on certain issues in their traditional manner, especially with regard to the Russian diplomatic property in the States of Maryland and new York.”
Two days later, Tillerson said at the Washington Lavrov that the United States is no longer linked to the problem of mansions with the question of construction in St. Petersburg.
Immediately after the talks on may 10 at the state Department Tillerson, together with Lavrov and Kislyak arrived in the Oval office. There they held a private meeting with trump. The day before the President has sent in the resignation of FBI Director James Comey, who at the time headed the investigation into the relations of the headquarters of the trump of Russia.
Komi Republic “was crazy,” said trump Russian, and with his dismissal the pressure on the President in connection with Russia weakened. This was reported by the New York Times. At the end of may the Ministry of justice has appointed the former Director of the FBI Robert Muller (Robert S. Mueller III) a special Prosecutor, he directed the Federal investigation.
Spending after a meeting with Tillerson and the trump press conference in the Russian Embassy there, Lavrov said about the closure of the houses: “Increasingly, and especially the administration of the tramp, understand that these actions were illegal.”
“The dialogue between Russia and the United States are now free from ideology, which was characteristic of the Obama administration,” added the Minister.
Your story gave Julie Tate (Julie Tate).
Karen Leung — associate editor and senior correspondent on national security issues of the newspaper the Washington Post.
Adam Entous writes about national security, foreign policy and intelligence activities for The Washington Post. In the newspaper Antes come in 2016 after 20 years of working in The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, where he covered the Pentagon, CIA, White house and Congress.