According to a report in The Washington Post, President Trump’s administration is moving toward handing back to Russia two diplomatic compounds in New York City and Maryland. Officials were ejected from these compounds in late December by the Obama administration as punishment for alleged interference from Moscow in the 2016 presidential election. Former President Obama said the compounds were “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes.” Early last month, the Trump administration reportedly told the Russians that it would consider giving the properties back over if Moscow would lift its freeze on construction of a new U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg. Subsequently, the administration’s position seemed to change as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that the U.S. had dropped any links between the consulate and the compounds. Senior Tillerson adviser R.C. Hammond said that “the U.S. and Russia have reached no agreements.” The administration is reportedly looking into possible restrictions on Russian activities in the compounds before letting them be occupied again.
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