Trump and Senate at odds over return of Russian compounds

By Dirk Trudeau | Jul 19, 2017
The Trump administration met with Russian diplomats Monday to try to come to an accord over return of diplomatic compounds seized by President Obama in response to Russia's alleged cyber-attacks during the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Washington, according to an ABC News report.

Along with seizure of the compounds, 35 Russian diplomats and their families were expelled by the Obama administration last December. Now, the Kremlin is threatening to retaliate if the compounds are not speedily returned.

"We have repeatedly said that we think any conditions are unacceptable," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, to CNN on Monday. "What is happening is de facto and de jure a violation of international law."

Peskov also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the issue of return of the dachas when he met with Trump at the G20 conference in Hamburg. The president, on the other hand, tweeted on July 9, "Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin."

A ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told ABC News that returning the compounds would be "a major affront to Congress," as the Senate recently passed legislation to strengthen sanctions against Russia. Included in the Senate legislation is a provision barring the Trump administration from changing any sanctions without congressional approval. The bill is now being held up in the House.

After a more than two-and-a-half hour meeting with Shannon, CNN said that Ryabkov responded to a reporter's question asking if he got his compounds back. "Almost, almost," Ryabkov said.

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