A pair of compounds, one in Maryland’s Queen Annes County and the other in Long Island, New York, have become part of the Obama Administration’s anti-Russia sanctions today, with announcements that Russia is being “expelled” from both sites, which were legally purchased decades ago.
Before long there was a flurry of speculation about the nefarious deeds the Russians were up to at both sites, a pair of fancy country houses purchased by the Soviet Union long ago as a place for their diplomats to get away from the bustle of DC and New York City, respectively.
Despite no evidence the sites were ever used as “spy bases,” that’s how they’ve long been presented in the media, if for no other reason than that’s what Russians do. The Maryland compound, bought in 1972, immediately fueled fears of Soviet submarines in the Chester River.
This was all quickly forgotten, even if the local government kept complaining that foreign governments don’t pay property taxes. The sites saw plenty of diplomats coming and going, treaty as a “summer house” for visiting Russian dignities, and with the fall of the Soviet Union, the presence of a Russian Federation diplomatic site wasn’t nearly such a big deal.
With a new Cold War, there is a new generation of people eager to believe the worse, and not too worried about evidence. The administration thus sold the sites as “spy compounds,” while local whispers of “lavish vodka parties” fit neatly into the new narrative of the spoiled rich Russian bureaucrat, just as the fear of Soviet submarines in the river did in the early 70’s.
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