Report: Trump administration considering giving Russia back its compounds

A Russian compound in New York.
(Image credit: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images)

Last December, former President Barack Obama gave Russia 24 hours to vacate diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland and expelled 35 Russians he called "intelligence operatives" as punishment for Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and now, the Trump administration is moving to return those compounds to Russia, The Washington Post reports.

Russia has asserted it used the facilities, which had diplomatic immunity, to hold events and as a place of relaxation for United Nations and embassy employees, but for decades the U.S. has believed the compounds are also used for spying. People with information on the matter told the Post that last month, the Trump administration told Russia it would consider turning the properties back over to Russia if Moscow agreed to lift a freeze on the construction of a new U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg. During a meeting a few days later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that the U.S. was no longer linking the compounds and the consulate. The Post reports that the administration is looking at enacting some restrictions at the compounds, including removing diplomatic immunity.

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Catherine Garcia, The Week US

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.