“One can only welcome US intention to return Russian diplomatic property, however, I do not consider it right or correct to link the issue to the situation in Syria. These are absolutely unrelated lines, [namely] counterterrorism cooperation aimed at ensuring stability and security in the world and implementation of agreements within the framework of the diplomatic relations between two states,” Slutsky told reporters on Friday.
The official recalled that the US decision to seize the Russian diplomatic property was made at the end of then-US President Barack Obama’s term and had “trumped-up grounds.”
Slutsky stressed that Moscow did not take immediate retaliatory measures because it hoped that US President Donald Trump's administration will have a constructive stance on the issue.
The lawmaker also expressed hope that the upcoming talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon on Monday would “help to clarify the situation.”
In December 2016, Washington imposed a number of restrictive measures on Russia over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election, including sanctions against several Russian individuals and entities, as well as the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds in the United States.
Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the Moscow was ready to expel US diplomats in response to Washington's failure to return its property in New York and Maryland.