Alwaght-Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has slammed the ongoing row over Moscow’s diplomatic property in the US, which was closed to Russian diplomats, as "daylight robbery".
Lavrov was referring to a RIA Novosti report on Monday which cited a high-ranking unnamed White House official as saying that the US is not planning to return the diplomatic property to Russia without asking for “something in return.”
“Is that source [the high-ranking official] anonymous?” Lavrov asked, while speaking to journalists on Monday. “So, I believe that their conscience is unclear. As for the issue [not returning the Russian diplomatic property without any preconditions], I consider it daylight robbery,” he said.
“It looks like some highway thieves are commenting on this situation,” Lavrov added.
“How is that: to seize property which was assigned by a bilateral intergovernmental ratified document, and to give it back they follow the principle, ‘Mine is mine, and yours will be shared,’” Lavrov concluded.
The foreign minister said he hopes that the Trump administration has people with logic who understand that their predecessors in the Obama administration decided to seize the Russian property, as well as expel 35 Russian diplomats, in “a state of agony.”
Russia has been denied access to compounds in Maryland (above) and New York that have reportedly been used for intelligence-related purposes.
According to Lavrov, the Obama-led authorities did not know “how else they could ruin [Moscow’s] relations with Washington in such a way that the Trump administration would fail to restore them.”
"Such a zealous desire to seek some ‘hidden’ channels of Russian influence on what is happening in the US is clearly not subsiding, to my great regret, and does not add confidence that we would be able to establish normal cooperation in international relations,” Lavrov said.
In December 2016 the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two diplomatic compounds belonging to Moscow in retaliation for alleged Russian efforts to interfere with the US presidential election.