Abandoned Russian Compounds In U.S. Were Resorts For Diplomats And Intelligence

Russia has been ordered to abandon two compounds in the United States following a series of intense sanctions imposed on the nation for meddling in the U.S. elections that resulted in Donald Trump winning the presidency in November 2016. Those compounds were thought by the public to be strictly used for intelligence and security meetings for diplomats, but new reports indicate that they were more of a resort for diplomats and their families.

According to a report on NPR, the two Russian compounds are located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and New York’s Oyster Bay in Long Island. Although the two compounds were thought to be used for official diplomatic business for the Russian intelligence and foreign affairs agencies, they have now been revealed to be more of a resort area for Russia’s agents that resided in the United States.

Upon further examination of the two compounds, the Maryland location featured 45 acres and a picturesque view of what was formerly owned by the Russian government. This included a secluded pool next to the river, a tennis court, a waterfront dock with recreational boating access and beautiful grounds for cycling, which was a reported way back in 2007 in an article for Washington Life.

“Because we have such a hectic life in Washington, we need a place to hide for awhile,” Svetlana Ushakova, wife of then Russian ambassador Yuri Ushakova, told Washington Life. “This is the best spot for really being alone with your family. Of course, we entertain friends, colleagues and officials here but not as much as we do in the city. We prefer to host small gatherings where you can really talk, exchange opinions and enjoy each other’s company.”

The report summarized the Maryland Russian compound as a summer house or a cottage as a way from him to get away from business as usual. The compounds seemed to indicate that they were in fact there for intelligence missions, but they were primarily used for resort style living for Russians living in the United States and looking to get away from their offices in Washington and other cities.

This was not something that U.S. officials did not know about the two Russian compounds. A senior White House official talked with the press on a call Thursday and spoke about the nature of business that took place on the compounds, as well as why they have the authority to kick the Russians out of the resort-style locations.

“They are compounds that the Russian government owns and that they use for multiple purposes… intelligence, but also recreational, as well,” the White House official said. “And under the Foreign Missions Act, we have the authority to restrict their access to these properties based on their pattern of behavior.”

The compound in Maryland, or the retreat some might say, has since been transformed into something much more elaborate. The mansion on the grounds has made a conversion to include apartments and cottages, all of which are capable of housing up to 40 families if necessary.

But that does not mean that either compound did not have its intelligence purposes as well. Although they did indeed double as a resort for Russian dignitaries, they also housed intelligence meetings as well that could have served to implement any foreign or domestic actions on behalf of the Russian government.

There were also some indications that the Russians had set up microwave antennas for interception of phone calls and other digital transmissions that were used. That included e-mails and other internet chats that people used, essentially constituting an invisible wire-tap.

As for now, the Russians will no longer have access to these compounds following the executive actions taken by President Obama. But all that may change once Donald Trump takes office, if he decides to reverse any of Obama’s decisions on the Russia incident.

[Featured Image by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images]