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Kremlin Says Russia's Patience Wearing Thin Over Seized Compounds In U.S.

Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov
Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov

A senior Kremlin official says Moscow is losing its patience with Washington over the seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds by U.S. authorities last year.

Yury Ushakov told reporters in Moscow on July 3 that Russia has shown "exceptional flexibility" following former U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to close the compounds in New York and Maryland as part of response to Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But Ushakov, a senior aide to President Vladimir Putin, said Russia's patience "has its limits," comments that came ahead of a planned meeting between Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump at the Group of 20 summit that begins in Germany on July 7.

"It seems to me that it's necessary to free the Russian side from the need to take retaliatory measures in response to the actions by the previous administration late last year, including the seizure of our diplomatic property," Ushakov said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on June 28 that "retaliatory measures" were being prepared over the closure of the compounds.

The seizure of the compounds in December came in response to what top U.S. intelligence officials call a Kremlin-directed hacking and propaganda campaign aimed at helping elect Trump, who has said he wants to improve ties with Moscow. Russia rejects the accusation.

Ushakov said the details of the planned Trump-Putin meeting in Hamburg were still being finalized, but he called the planned talks "important."

"We have a lot of issues, which should be discussed at the highest level....That's why this meeting, this first personal contact, is so important," he said.

Concerning the proposed agenda for the meeting, the first between the two men since Trump took office, Ushakov said: "I've heard the Americans want to raise the issues of terrorism and Syria. It seems to me that would be pretty reasonable."

The U.S. State Department said later on July 3 that Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon discussed the planned meeting earlier in the day with Russia's ambassador in Washington, Sergei Kislyak.

Shannon and Kislyak also discussed recent talks between the two countries' top diplomats and "issues of mutual concern," the State Department said in a short statement.

The statement noted that they also discussed scheduling a new meeting between Shannon and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

Moscow canceled a previously planned meeting between the two diplomats last month in response to fresh U.S. sanctions targeting Russia over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Despite Trump's stated desire for greater cooperation with Russia, his administration so far has shown no marked indication that it intends to soften or lift the Ukraine-related sanctions, which have incensed Moscow.

A push for detente with Russia would also likely face stiff resistance from lawmakers in Washington, where Trump's administration has been dogged by the allegations of Russian meddling and contacts between associates of the U.S. president and Russian officials prior to Trump's inauguration.

Trump has accused the news media and his political opponents of seeking to undermine his presidency with what he has called a "fake" Russia story.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and RIA Novosti
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