Russia slams US decision not to allow humanitarian flight to pick up diplomats

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Russia slams US decision not to allow humanitarian flight to pick up diplomats

Moscow says that Washington has not allowed a flight that was supposed to pick up Russian diplomats ordered to leave the US.

Russia s foreign ministry has described as hostile and provocative Washington s decision not to let a humanitarian flight pick up Russian diplomats who had been ordered to leave the US.

Moscow warned that the US government's latest move was another blow to Russian-American bilateral relations, which are already in a sorry state, and was published on Wednesday by the ministry's website, Maria Zakharova. According to the official, Washington refused to issue an entry permit for a special flight that was supposed to bring Russian diplomats and their families home, a move that Zakharova branded hostile. The diplomat said that the Biden administration essentially ignored the fact that we are talking about humanitarian action. She said that the plane was supposed to come and pick up those of our colleagues who were ordered by the Department of State to leave the US by the end of the month. Zakharova stressed that the American government's provocative behavior will not go unanswered. The official said that Moscow had warned Washington in advance that if it did not allow the flight to arrive, Russia would respond in an asymmetrical manner.

A number of countries, mostly in the West, have expelled a total of several hundred Russian diplomats since the start of Russia's offensive against Ukraine in late February. The Kremlin showed the representatives of those countries the door in kind.

In fact, the souring relations between Washington and Moscow had seen the two nations engage in tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomatic staff for several years before the armed conflict broke out.

On multiple occasions, the US authorities have claimed that Russian diplomats have been doubling as spies, an allegation Moscow has denied.

Russian diplomats who had stayed in the country for more than three years had to leave, according to a decision made by the US Department of State in August 2021. Washington insists that it is not an expulsion but rather a tightening of rules aimed at making Russia rotate its diplomats with similar frequency to that of the US embassy in Moscow.

Russia argued that this was a mere pretext, and mirrored the newly introduced US three-year limit, which ordered a number of American diplomatic staff to leave.

The first 24 Russian representatives vacated America in early September 2021.

Another 27 Russian diplomats and their families flew home on January 30, 2022.

Some 28 more embassy staff are expected to leave the US on June 30.