The Kremlin said yesterday Moscow's patience was running out in its diplomatic row with the United States that seized Russia's diplomatic property in the U.S. and expelled Russian diplomats in 2016.
"From the point of view of international law, Russia cannot put up with it for a long time, leaving it without taking any measures of reciprocity," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.
"But at the same time we expect that in the end our colleagues in the U.S. will finally show some kind of political will to rectify the violations of international law which they admitted." He declined to say when Moscow could take its retaliatory action.
In addition, Russia considering retaliatory measures against the United States over its expulsion of 35 diplomats and seizure of two diplomatic compounds last year, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday. The threat of action represents a change in stance from the Kremlin, as Russia initially chose not to respond to the steps taken by then outgoing US president Barack Obama in December.
The subject, however came up during US President Donald Trump's first face-to-face meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin last week. Obama closed Russian facilities in New York and Maryland in response to purported cyber hacking attacks targeting parts of the US government, infrastructure, think tanks and political organizations. The Russian diplomats and their families were given 72 hours to leave.
"If Washington decides not to solve this issue, we will have to take counter actions, and this is the rule of diplomacy, of reciprocity, of international affairs," Lavrov said in Brussels.
the resurfacing of the expulsions row comes amid a much larger focus on alleged Russian meddling in last year's US election campaign, which is the subject of major investigations in Washington.
Speaking earlier in Moscow, Lavrov said Obama's "outrageous" move was designed "to poison Russian-American relations to the maximum and do everything to put the Trump administration in a trap." "We are thinking about specific steps, and I don't believe that this should be discussed publicly," Lavrov told journalists of the potential diplomatic response.
Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, meanwhile, told the RIA-Novosti news agency that "there were several variants of a response and a harsh reaction is prepared." The expelled diplomats were based in Washington and San Francisco.
Russian newspaper Izvestia said Monday, citing sources, that Moscow may expel 30 American diplomats and seize US property in the country. Putin in December ruled out kicking out American diplomats, a move interpreted as Moscow's intention to build ties with a new White House administration, over the alleged cyber hacking, dubbed Grizzly Steppe by US officials. Trump himself hailed Putin's restraint -- he even invited US diplomats' families to a party in the Kremlin -- as a "great move" and "very smart". However, Russia wants to regain its properties in the United States and the subject was on the agenda of Putin's meeting with Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg last week, according to the Kremlin.