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Lavrov Threatens to Retaliate for US Closure of 2 Russian Diplomatic Compounds

  • VOA News

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talks to journalists before an informal ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, in Mauerbach near Vienna, Austria, July 11, 2017.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is warning to retaliate if the U.S. does not return two Russian diplomatic compounds seized last year.

“If Washington decides not to resolve this issue, we will have to take counter-actions,” Lavrov threatened Tuesday in Brussels. “We are still hopeful that the U.S., as a proponent of the rule of law, will finally respect international obligations.”

Lavrov did not say what specific steps the Kremlin could take.

Former President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shuttered two Russian-own compounds in Maryland and California in the closing weeks of his administration in December.

It was a reaction to the allegations that Russia meddled in the presidential election.

Moscow fumed when the diplomats were thrown out of the country and its buildings taken over, calling Obama's move illegal.

But President Vladimir Putin declined to take immediate retaliation, preferring to wait until the Trump administration was established.

Trump called Putin's restraint “very smart” and a “great move.”

Russia says Putin brought up the issue during his talks with Trump last week in Hamburg.