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Congressional Sabotage of U.S.-Russia Relations Continues

July 14, 2017 (EIRNS)—The Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate is trying to impose their sabotage of U.S.-Russian relations directly into the conduct of diplomacy between Moscow and Washington.

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon is scheduled to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on July 17 in Washington, a meeting that has already been postponed once—they were supposed to meet on June 23 in St. Petersburg. However, the Russian side is threatening to cancel it again if the matter of diplomatic properties that were seized in December of 2016 under outgoing President Obama’s orders, is not going to be dealt with in some substantive way. A high-ranking diplomatic source told Izvestia that the cancellation will happen

"if the United States does not return to discussion of the issue concerning the return of Russian diplomatic compounds and will not set a mutually beneficial agenda for consultations."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed today that the meeting is on, but that Russia may still be forced to take retaliatory action over the diplomatic compounds and numerous other outstanding "irritants" left over from the Obama Administration.

"Let me repeat (we have said this and explained this many times) that we would not like to go to extremes," she said. "We never rush on such matters. As you know, there was a very long pause that has obviously lasted for too long. If our American partners do not understand it in a different way, at some point we will have to take steps in this direction."

Senate Democrats Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, have sent a letter to Shannon telling him they "strongly oppose" any move to hand the two diplomatic compounds back over to Russia.

"Simply put, the Russian government has done nothing to deserve renewed access to these compounds," they claimed in their letter, reported The Hill. "Since the seizure of these compounds, we are unaware of any evidence or assessment that the treatment of U.S. personnel in the Russian Federation has markedly improved."

On the House side, the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill passed today, by a vote of 344 to 8. The bill has a slew of anti-Russia provisions in it, a number of which the Trump Administration has already expressed objection to. One amendment that was voted up on Wednesday (July 12) would require the Pentagon to report attempts by Russian actors to hack its systems. According to The Hill, the amendment would require Defense Secretary James Mattis, in coordination with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates, to report to Congress any attempts by the Russian government or actors it supports to attack the Defense Department’s systems within the last two years.

"World War III is raging right now. Every day attacks are being carried out, and we need to be prepared," Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.), the author of the amendment, claimed wildly.