It looks like the republican President Donald Trump may be close to handing back to Russia two diplomatic compounds, near New York City and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, from which its officials were ejected in late December as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. He is doing this despite strong opposition from the US Senate. The US Senate did pass a bipartisan bill (98-2), in mid June 2017, to block the president from taking this action but it has been languishing in the US House of Representatives.
President Barack Obama before he left office, decided on Dec. 29, 2016 that the compounds being used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes would be confiscated.. Separately, he also expelled from the United States 35 Russian “intelligence operatives.”
Update on July 18,2017: It looks like the Russian official who claimed that US and Russian representatives were close to finalizing an acceptable agreement was guilty of wishful thinking. Now the Russians are threatening to take retaliatory measures.
I’M OUTRAGED. I don’t understand why the US House hasn’t passed the Senate’s bill passed in mid June 2017 to bar this? At first, the excuse was that there was a bureaucratic glitch which has been fixed.
During the week of July 10, 2017, the Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has said the bill was close to being passed. But there are rumors that the president has been pushing hard to block it and the House Speaker Paul Ryan has been cooperating. I wonder why? Why aren’t the US House republicans standing up for “we the people” who were harmed by Russia’s aggressive interference with our democracy. As of July 18, 2017, this bill has yet to be voted on and codified.
Here is the rest of the story…
On July 17, 2017, Connor Finnegan of ABC News penned the following report,”Russian official says ‘almost’ near deal with Trump administration for return of diplomatic compounds.”
“A Russian official said after a high-level meeting with Trump administration officials that the two countries have “almost” reached a deal for the U.S. to return two diplomatic compounds to Russian control.”
“Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had just left the meeting at the U.S. State Department early Monday evening (7/17/2017) when he responded to a shouted question about whether the two countries are close to a deal on the Russian compounds.”
“Almost, almost,” he said.”
“Ryabkov met with U.S. Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon in Washington –- the highest level meeting since the two countries’ presidents, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, met at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7.”
“Monday’s meeting comes as the Trump administration faces intense pressure from Russia on one side and the U.S. Congress on the other over the fate of the two compounds, or dachas, in New York and Maryland.”
“The Obama administration in December 2016 cut off Russia’s access to the dachas and expelled 35 Russian diplomats in response to Russia’s cyber-attacks on the 2016 U.S. election.”
“Russia has been losing patience with the Trump administration over the issue, threatening to retaliate if the compounds are not returned soon.”
“It appears that the Russian side has no choice, it’s time to retaliate,” the chairman of Russia’s Federation Council’s foreign affairs committee told Sputnik, a Russian state-owned news agency.”
“Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov took a slightly softer tone, telling reporters that Russia hopes the White House can still find the “political wisdom and political will” to return the dachas.”
But the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said any action toward returning the dachas would be “a major affront to Congress.” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, is just the latest to express his opposition; two bipartisan groups of Senators have previously written letters to the Trump administration, urging them not to return the compounds, including Republicans Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Johnny Isakson.”
“The Senate passed new sanctions legislation in June that would codify existing sanctions, implement new ones and force the Trump administration to seek Congressional approval before it can change any sanctions — including returning the compounds. The legislation is currently awaiting a vote in the House, where it is being held up.”
“Despite the threats from Russia and strong Congressional opposition, the Trump administration does appear to be considering returning the dachas. As deputy assistant to the President, Sebastian Gorka said on CNN last Thursday, “We want to give collaboration, a chance.”