The Trump administration is considering handing back two Russian diplomatic compounds along the U.S. East Coast after they were seized last year as punishment against the country, according to a report.
The compounds, one in coastal New York and the other along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, were believed by the Obama administration to have been used for intelligence purposes and were vacated on December 29 when former president Barack Obama sanctioned Russia for its alleged role in trying to sway the 2016 presidential election.
President Donald Trump is now deciding whether to return the two compounds to Moscow in exchange for certain concessions from Russia, according to reports in The Washington Post and Reuters.
According to several unnamed sources cited in the reports, Trump administration officials have spoken to Moscow about returning the compounds if Russia lifts a freeze on the construction of a U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg and stops harassing American diplomats in Russia.
The deal-making process is still in its early stages, though, and R.C. Hammond, a top aide to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, told the Post that “the U.S. and Russia have reached no agreements.”
Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said Wednesday Russia may try to take back the property through legal action “if these steps are not somehow adjusted by the U.S. side.”
The next senior-level meeting between the two sides will come later in June, and the issue is expected to be prominent on the agenda.