One of the last acts of Obama's presidency was to "impose costs" on Russia over election-hacking allegations (so far unproven) by expelling 35 Russian diplomats and seizing two compounds in NY and MD. Putin initially warned of "proportional response" but then surprised many by "refusing to sink to 'kitchen' diplomacy." However, six months later, Reuters reports Russia may seize U.S. diplomatic property in Moscow.
23 days before the end of his presidency, and just as the post-election Russia-blaming paranoia was getting going, Obama unleashed sanctions against Russia...
Statement by the President on Actions in Response to Russian Malicious Cyber Activity and Harassment
Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government's aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election. These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.
All Americans should be alarmed by Russia's actions. In October, my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process. These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year. Such activities have consequences. Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response.
The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring "persona non grata" 35 Russian intelligence operatives.
"The US sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of 35 diplomats in 72 hours are the signs of a real paranoia. Without any grounds for it another round of extremely aggressive steps towards our country are being made basing only on mere assertions."
But Putin quickly took a different tack... saying it would wait to see if relations improved under the incoming U.S. president, Donald Trump.
Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.
And with that one statement, Obama lost the diplomatic war with Russia.
However, six months later, it appears Russia has had enough of playing the 'diplomat' and as Reuters reports, according to the daily Kommersant, Russia may seize U.S. diplomatic property in Moscow and complicate life for an Anglo-American school unless Washington hands back two diplomatic compounds in the United States before July.
Kommersant, citing unnamed diplomatic sources, said on Friday that Moscow wanted the compounds back before a possible meeting at the G20 in Germany in July between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump.
If that did not happen, the newspaper cited the sources as saying Russia could retaliate by seizing a U.S. diplomatic dacha, or country house, in Serebryany Bor in north-west Moscow and a U.S. diplomatic warehouse in Moscow.
It said that Russian authorities could also complicate life for Moscow's Anglo-American school by altering its legal status.
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday that Moscow was still waiting for the return of its U.S. compounds and could retaliate in kind if that did not happen.
What happens next is anyone's guess. But one thing is for sure, this renewed potential for US-Russia tensions will not be taken by the media or the left as any indication that Trump is anything less than Putin's puppet... because that would blow the entire narrative (just like Comey's testimony did this week).