When Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the seizure of Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland last December in response to alleged Russian interference in the election, Putin just smiled and said Russia would not retaliate, expecting that relations between Russia and the US would normalize under president Trump. Six months later, relations have not only not normalized but have deteriorated further following the latest round of sanctions against Russia despite daily allegations that Trump colluded with the Kremlin to convince several million Americans to vote against Hillary.
And, as a result, Putin’s patience appears to have run out, and according to Russian newspaper Izvestiya, the Kremlin is set to expel around 30 US diplomats and freeze some US assets in a retaliatory move against Washington.
Quoting a Foreign Ministry source, the Izvestiya newspaper says the move is due to the failure to reach an agreement on two Russian diplomatic compounds in the US seized by the outgoing Obama administration in December last year.
“There is a preliminary agreement on holding a meeting between Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon in St. Petersburg. If the compromise is not found there, we will have to take such measures,” a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told the Izvestiya newspaper.
Izvestiya also cited Andrey Klimov, a senator in the upper house of Russia’s parliament, who said 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.
“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.”
The Russian newspaper adds that 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 issue of the Russian diplomatic compounds was also raised at the Putin-Trump meeting in Hamburg, according to the Russian press reports.
And, as Trump and his family face fresh claims of collusion with the Kremlin, Putin’s patience over the non-return of the Russian compounds has run out.
According to the newspaper, while the administration plans to seize the American summer house in a forest region outside of Moscow and a warehouse in the center of the city, it will not touch the residence of the American ambassador and the American international school in St. Petersburg.