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WASHINGTON, January 19. /TASS/. Moscow does not recognize legitimacy of the decisions, taken by the outgoing U.S. administration, regarding Russia’s diplomatic compounds in the States, head of the Russian embassy’s press service Nikolai Lahonin told TASS.
The Russian position is - the steps of the US current government headed by President Barack Obama, whose term expires on Friday, contradict with both the international law and the US national legislation:
"We cannot recognize legitimacy of the actions, undertaken by the US side, which contradict with basic norms of the international law, as well as provisions of the US national legislation, which guarantees protection for the right to property," head of the press service said.
A few days before the New Year, Obama’s administration announced new sanctions against Russia, including closing two Russian compounds in the states of New York and Maryland. Washington explained the sanctions by hacker attacks on the US political institutions, of which the outgoing administration accuses Russia. Moscow rejects those insinuations.
The US State Department said it "will secure and maintain the properties in keeping with our responsibilities," the authority’s official said, however, ignoring the question whether the State Department thinks its personnel now will have access to those compounds.
Nor did the representative explain who had the authority to cancel the decision to close the properties for Russians - the secretary of state or the president.
Under US law, the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions can restrict access to such properties, the official told TASS, adding the legal basis is the Foreign Missions Act.
TASS obtained reliable information, saying the US after announcing new anti-Russian sanctions lifted the diplomatic immunity off the two compounds, which is a privilege offered by the local side.
However, some experts say the US secretary of state does not have authorities to impose limitations on the property, belonging to a foreign owner.
On December 30, 2016, President Vladimir Putin stated Moscow reserves the right to take actions in retaliation for the new Washington’s sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of Russian diplomats, but it will not stoop to diplomatic catfight.
"We reserve the right to take retaliatory measures but we will not stoop to the level of the so-called kitchen diplomacy, so we will take further steps to restore Russia-US relations taking into account the Trump administration’s policy," Putin said.