Kremlin wants US to return seized Russian compounds without strings

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting of Russia's President Vladimir Putin with his Macedonian counterpart Gjorge Ivanov at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on May 24, 2017.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting of Russia's President Vladimir Putin with his Macedonian counterpart Gjorge Ivanov at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on May 24, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Friday that any US preconditions for the return of its diplomatic property seized by the United States ran contrary to international law.

In December, then-President Barack Obama ordered the seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds and the expulsion of 35 Russians over what he said was their involvement in hacking the 2016 US presidential election campaign.

"Return of the diplomatic property to Russia must not depend on any conditions," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

"This totally contradicts international law." Peskov was responding to comments made to CNN by Sebastian Gorka, an adviser to US President Donald Trump, that appeared to link the compounds' return to Russia's behaviour in Syria.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin decided not to retaliate over the expulsions and property seizure at the time, saying he would wait to see what the Trump administration would do.

Putin has not yet taken any decisions on retaliatory measures, Peskov said.