Russia Prepared to Expel 30 U.S. Diplomats and Freeze U.S. Assets

A source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told Izvestiya newspaper that Moscow may take retaliatory measures against U.S. diplomats in Russia, in response to earlier U.S. expulsion of Russian diplomats under Obama administration.

“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, as cited by Sputnik International.

As a part of new sanctions imposed on Russia, the Obama administration ordered two diplomatic compounds belonging to Russia closed down. Around 35 Russian diplomats were expelled from the U.S.

The measures were Washington’s response to the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election. U.S. authorities said that the two Russian diplomatic facilities, in Maryland and Long Island, were “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes”.

However, the Kremlin initially abstained from introducing retaliatory measures against the U.S., although Moscow considered freezing U.S. assets in Russia.

The new U.S. administration under Donald Trump showed no willingness to reconsider the measures introduced by the previous administration, frustrating Moscow. Russian President and other high ranking officials hoped for a compromise solution, but the Trump administration failed to live up to their expectations.

The issue of Russian diplomatic compounds was discussed at the meeting between Putin and Trump in Hamburg, according to Russian media reports.

Trump hinted on Twitter that sanctions against Russia will stay until the problems in Ukraine and Syria are resolved. He also stated that the question of lifting sanctions was not discussed during his meeting with Putin.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ryabkov and U.S. Under Secretary of State will discuss the issue next week.

Judging by the way U.S.-Russia relations are developing, the meeting will bring little or no result.