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The Kremlin may expel dozens of American diplomats from Russia and freeze some US assets in response to its seized diplomatic properties in the US. In response to the recent round of US sanctions against Russia, Moscow is planning to strike back by expelling at least 30 American diplomats and seizing US state property in the country, a senior Kremlin official told Russian newspaper Izvestiya.

According to the newspaper, Moscow was driven to take such measures by Washington’s decision not to return the Russian Embassy’s property, which was confiscated in December 2016.

Russia said it was “outrageous” that the US has not yet handed back two Russian intelligence compounds seized in Maryland under the Obama administration, BBC reported on Tuesday.

The US had also expelled 35 Russian diplomats in December in response to alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The matter was not resolved during the Putin-Trump talks in Hamburg, Germany. The US decision, said the report, forced Russia to take a tit-for-tat response.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Russian media it was “simply shameful for such a great country as the US, a champion of international law, to leave the situation in such a state of suspended animation”.

“Justice and international law must be restored,” he said, accusing the US Congress of being “charged up with Russophobia”.

“There is a preliminary agreement to hold a meeting in St. Petersburg between Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US State Department’s Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon. If there is no compromise after that, we will have to take these measures,” the official told Izvestia.

Earlier, the newspaper said that the US dacha (summer house) in Serebryany Bor and a storage room in Moscow could be seized as part of the measures while Spaso House, the residence of the US Ambassador to Moscow, and the Ambassador’s Anglo-American school in St. Petersburg will not be affected.

Andrey Klimov, a Senator in the Upper House of Russia’s Parliament, told Izvestiya 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.

“Unfortunately, for half a year Trump either could not, or did not consider it important to correct the situation. Now we have to draw a line and answer in a reciprocal manner,” Klimov said.

First Published | 11 July 2017 9:22 PM
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