Russian diplomats departed two countryside vacation retreats outside Washington and New York City without fanfare on December 30, in compliance with orders from the White House.
The Russians, who were accused of using the vacation spots to spy, were given until noon to vacate the compounds in Centreville, Maryland, and Upper Brookville on Long Island, New York. By early afternoon, small convoys of trucks, buses, and black sedans with diplomatic license plates had left.
"The premises have been vacated and it's under control of the government," said Elliot Conway, the mayor of Upper Brookville. "They've been quiet neighbors."
In Maryland, some passengers in a convoy smiled and waved as they rode away from the sprawling waterfront estate, which is located in a wooded farm area with winding narrow roads.
The White House said the compounds had been used for intelligence-gathering. Their closure was one of a series of punitive measures against Russia for what the White House says was Moscow's interference in the November presidential election through a hacking campaign.
Russia's United Nations Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called the move "scandalous," especially coming during the Christmas holidays when school is in recess and families had planned spend time relaxing at the facilities.
Based on reporting by AP and Reuters