Russia, US in diplomatic row
High-level talks on 'irritants' to be revived amid rumours the Kremlin is to expel Americans
14 July, 2017
In response to the recent round of US sanctions, Moscow is planning to strike back and expel at least 30 American diplomats and seize US state property in the country, according to a senior official. Andrey Klimov, a senator in the upper house of Russia's parliament, told Izvestiya daily that Russia had already waited more than six months for the Trump administration to improve the relationship between the two countries and was now forced to strike back.
The move comes after the US expelled 35 Russian diplomats and seized Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York in response to alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. “We are forced to draw a line and answer in a similar way,” Klimov told Izvestiya. “These moves are not meant as our attempts to show our negative attitudes toward the Trump administration but rather as evidence of the fact that Russia is a strong nation that deserves respectable treatment.”
According to Isvestiya, the decision came after Trump and Putin's first meeting at the G20 Summit in Germany failed to produce an agreement on the lightening of US sanctions against Russia. The paper also reports that while the administration plans to seize the American summer house in a forest region outside of Moscow and a warehouse in the centre of the city, it will not touch the residence of the American ambassador and the American international school in St. Petersburg.
The warning came alongside the news that the US and Russia are reviving high-level talks aimed at resolving major 'irritants' between the two world powers. The announcement by the US State Department came after Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov threatened retaliation if the US did not return two Russian diplomatic compounds.
US Undersecretary of State Tom Shannon will host Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Washington on 17 July for talks that are expected to focus on resolving the row over the diplomatic compounds, which the Kremlin has made a top priority. Moscow last month abruptly cancelled the last scheduled meeting between Shannon and Ryabkov after the US Treasury announced new sanctions against Russia over its aggression in Ukraine. But a State Department spokeswoman said that the talks were now back on track, without providing a reason.
The dialogue was launched earlier this year at what US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called a “low point” in US-Russia relations, in hopes that making progress on relatively minor issues such as the diplomatic spat might enable the two countries to cooperate on larger matters such as the wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine.
Revival of plans for the talks follows the first meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany last week. Ryabkov, speaking to Russian media, said the presidential meeting had inspired a “certain hope that the situation will change for the better.”