Ushakov urged Washington to “free Russia from the need to take retaliatory moves,” according to The Associated Press.
The White House has reportedly been mulling returning the compounds in an effort to improve relations with Moscow, and in recent days Russian officials have warned that retaliatory measures have been drawn up if the compounds are not returned. They were nominally used by the Russian Embassy as recreational facilities, but U.S. intelligence has long argued they were bases for espionage.
In a separate statement released today, the Kremlin said Putin would raise the issue with Trump when the two meet in Hamburg, Germany, where the G-20 summit is being held Saturday. The statement said that the Kremlin expected Putin would convey the need to find the “most rapid resolution” on the issue, which it described as an “irritant” in Russian-U.S. relations.
There has been intense speculation for months over when the two presidents might come face to face. Since confirming the meeting last week, the White House has been light on details about what they will discuss.
McMaster said administration officials had been tasked with drawing up options to confront Russia over “destabilizing behavior,” including cyberthreats and political subversion, as well looking for ways to cooperate on issues such as Syria and North Korea.
Most of the issues resembled those the Kremlin frequently raised with the Obama administration, and the statement emphasized Moscow’s desire for a return to normal relations.
There is “significant potential for coordinating efforts,” the Kremlin statement said. “Our countries can do much together in resolving regional crises,” including Ukraine, Libya and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The statement also said Russia was eager to restore business links with the United States.
In reality, however, it’s unclear that, beyond the return of the diplomatic compounds, there is much Putin and Trump will be able to ask of each other. In many areas, U.S. and Russian interests have little overlap, and that has not appeared to change under Trump.
“I don’t think we should expect any kind of a breakthrough,” said Maria Lipman, a veteran political analyst in Moscow. “I don’t think we should expect any significant results from this meeting. Not even the beginning of solutions to the major issues.”
During the presidential campaign and after the election, some Russian officials and state media expressed optimism that Trump would mean better relations with the United States. But such hopes have so far largely not materialized.
Lipman said she believes there is a growing realization in the Kremlin of Trump’s severely restricted ability to alter U.S. policy toward Moscow, given the intensity of the scandal around the Russia investigations.