Shaheen, Rubio and Isakson to President Trump: Don’t Return Russian Dachas to the Kremlin

**In a bipartisan letter to President Trump, Senators Shaheen, Rubio, and Isakson say return of Russia’s diplomatic compounds would “embolden” President Putin and “invite a dangerous escalation in the Kremlin’s destabilizing actions against democracies worldwide”**

July 06, 2017

(Washington DC) – Today, ahead of President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him not to return to President Putin the Russian diplomatic compounds that were seized late last year following Russia’s interference in the November election. During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on June 13, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that the potential return of these two compounds, or dachas, is part of their ongoing negotiations with the Russian government.

 

Shaheen, Rubio and Isakson write, “The return of these two facilities to Russia while the Kremlin refuses to address its influence campaign against the United States‎ would embolden President Vladimir Putin and invite a dangerous escalation in the Kremlin’s destabilizing actions against democracies worldwide.”

 

The Senators point to the recent Senate vote of 97-2 in favor of a Russian sanctions amendment to the Iran sanctions bill that “would require strict Congressional review of any decision to overturn or lift existing policies on Russia, including the return of these two dachas, and would impose new sanctions to deter Russian aggression against the U.S. and its allies.”

 

The Senators continue, “While we understand the larger goal is to seek cooperation, we have seen the limits of Russia’s willingness to work with the United States time and time again. For this reason, we cannot agree to any deal that would enhance the Kremlin’s intelligence gathering capabilities or overturn actions taken in defense of U.S. officials threatened by Russian officials overseas. The return of these two facilities to the Russian Federation would risk these outcomes. Therefore, we urge you to remove the return of these facilities from any negotiation or consideration in your discussions with President Putin during your upcoming trip.”

 

Text of the letter is below. PDF of the letter can be found here?.

 

 July 6, 2017

 

President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President,

As you prepare for your trip to the G20 Hamburg Summit, we write to express our deep concern over statements from senior Administration officials confirming the Administration’s intention to discuss the return of two diplomatic compounds, or dachas, in New York and Maryland that were seized at the end of last year as a result of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. elections. The return of these two facilities to Russia while the Kremlin refuses to address its influence campaign against the United States‎ would embolden President Vladimir Putin and invite a dangerous escalation in the Kremlin’s destabilizing actions against democracies worldwide.

These facilities were seized in response to Moscow’s destabilizing actions, as well as the Kremlin’s continued harassment of U.S. personnel at our diplomatic missions in Russia. As exemplified on June 13, 2017, before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, there is a broad consensus in Congress against rewarding the Kremlin for its bad behavior. A resounding bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators voted, 97-2, on Amendment 255 to S. 722 that would require strict Congressional review of any decision to overturn or lift existing policies on Russia, including the return of these two dachas, and would impose new sanctions to deter Russian aggression against the U.S. and its allies.

 

While we understand the larger goal is to seek cooperation, we have seen the limits of Russia’s willingness to work with the United States time and time again. For this reason, we cannot agree to any deal that would enhance the Kremlin’s intelligence gathering capabilities or overturn actions taken in defense of U.S. officials threatened by Russian officials overseas. The return of these two facilities to the Russian Federation would risk these outcomes. Therefore, we urge you to remove the return of these facilities from any negotiation or consideration in your discussions with President Putin during your upcoming trip.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

 

CC:       The Honorable Rex Tillerson, Secretary, U.S. Department of State