Russia to Sue U.S. over Diplomatic Property: Report

Russia will soon file a lawsuit with a U.S. court for the return of its diplomatic property in the United States. Moscow has already hired American lawyers to defend its interests, a high-ranking source in Russian diplomatic circles told the Izvestia newspaper, TASS reported.

According to the source, launching a lawsuit amid the current diplomatic conflict with a number of Western countries is an opportunity for the American justice system to “prove its independence and political impartiality.”

“Russia has exhausted all diplomatic and political avenues to return its diplomatic property to the United States, in which its seizure set off the conflict at the end of Barack Obama’s presidential term,” the newspaper wrote. According to Izvestia’s diplomatic source, it would be quite symbolic if an American court sided with Russia in this property battle.

“We found a firm that will be dealing with this case, in the near future and we will file a lawsuit. Unfortunately, notes of protest and calls to reason failed to succeed. The U.S. continues to keep hold of Russian property. Besides that, Washington decided to expel 60 of our diplomats. Against this background, the problem regarding diplomatic capacity has not only failed to die down, but it has become even more pressing. Therefore, the issue will be resolved through litigation. The lawyers hired are currently engaged in hammering out the final draft of the lawsuit,” the source told the newspaper.

Former Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak told the newspaper that an adequate draft of the suit took a lot of time, so it would be wrong to say that Russia is dragging its feet on this issue.

“We must be ready to defend our case in the American court system, which demands a highly professional approach. I initially proceeded from the fact that it would take a lot of time, consultations and precise knowledge from our specialists. If you want to solve something in an American court, it is unlikely to be productive without involving American expertise,” Kislyak said, confirming the participation of U.S. lawyers in the case.

In one of the Barack Obama administration’s last big moves, in December 2016, two Russian compounds — one on the Atlantic seaboard in Maryland and another in New York — were seized with the explanation that they were being used to gather intelligence on the United States. 35 Russian diplomats were also expelled at the time in response to alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election.