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Russia registers US special services penetrating into seized diplomatic compounds

Russia's Foreign Ministry has registered penetrations by US special services into the territory of the seized Russian diplomatic compounds in the United States, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a live broadcast of Rossiya 1 TV Channel on Friday.

"For several months now the problem has been that we do not have access to our facilities. We have no idea what is happening there. According to our data, penetrations occurred and this happened on many occasions. Who enters there? You understand well that these are not American citizens frightened to death who have decided to see what the Russians have there. You understand well that these compounds are accessed by the staff of special services," the spokeswoman said, noting the incidents could bring about emergencies like a fire.

Commenting on media reports about alleged intelligence equipment in the mansions, Zakharova said, "There is an injected topic in the media that equipment was presumably installed there. Given the equipment had been there, all the papers would have long published photos. The question is what they have been doing there for six months. Perhaps, when the gates are opened, God knows what we will see there. Anything is possible there."

The diplomat was hopeful that the coming meeting of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon would result in "totally meaningful" steps seeking a solution.

"I think that after this meeting, taking into regard its results and how it will go ahead, relevant conclusions will be made about the direction we are moving in," she said. "Until now, we have been proceeding from the fact that the issue should have a civilized solution, within legal framework and possibly in a human manner, when realizing what passions are running high in Washington these days."

Russia's diplomatic compounds seizure in US

In late December 2016, the Obama administration introduced a new round of sanctions against some Russian companies, the Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Agency of Russia's General Staff. Besides that, US authorities expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland. Washington attributed these sanctions to cyber attacks against US political institutions, accusing Russia of being involved. However, Moscow fully rejected all allegations.

The Russian personnel's access to these compounds was barred. Moscow has not given a tit-for-tat response so far.

Earlier on Thursday, Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Trump, told journalists that the Trump administration was considering the return of two Russian diplomatic compounds seized in the United States and may decide it if Moscow shows "acts of good faith" with regards to Syria.

Russia's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said later that "if the wheels are not set in motion", Russia was prepared to reduce staff numbers at the US embassy in Moscow and to seize a US mansion and warehouse in response to the US actions.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 14Jul17]

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