Russia says it reserves right to retaliate in compound dispute
Posted July 18, 2017 7:25 a.m. EDT
Moscow "has the right to take retaliatory measures" if Washington does not address the seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds in the US along with "other concerns," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
The statement addresses Monday's meeting in Washington between Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, in which the compounds -- closed by then-President Barack Obama last December as part of sanctions for Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election -- were discussed.
Shannon and Ryabkov "continued to look for ways to resolve pending issues," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "Russia reiterated to its US partners its readiness to resume regular dialogue on this issue after it was suspended by the previous administration," it said.
"It is now up to Washington to take the relevant steps" the statement concluded.
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment and has not yet received a response.
On Monday, as Ryabkov left the State Department after more than two and a half hours a reporter shouted a question: "Did you get your compounds back?" He responded: "Almost, almost." Shannon did not comment.
Russia has described the compound seizure as a violation of international law. Putin did not retaliate at the time but Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned last month that the Kremlin would respond if the compounds, in Maryland and New York State, were not returned.
"It is best to immediately return our property, otherwise Russia has the right to come up [with a] tit-for-tat response in relation to American property in Russia. I want to confirm that the retaliatory measures are in the works," Zakharova told reporters.
When asked about the dispute in a White House briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer referred reporters to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who Spicer claimed had been "having discussions." Spicer did not say whom Tillerson had been having discussions with.