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Why are Russian diplomats leaving the United States?

A lone Russian plane landed in Washington on Saturday despite a ban on Russian aircraft landing in the US, but it was not there for usual passengers.

This file photo taken on February 28, 2022, shows a general view of the United Nations Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York City.
Angela WeissAFP

With the war in Ukraine still raging, tensions have been high between Russia and plenty of other nations around the world. Old enemies, Russia and the United States are at each others throats once again.

The latest spat concerns the position of Russian diplomats in the US. Namely, another expulsion. The US claimed that the diplomats were being expelled from the country for national security concerns. Last Monday it was demanded that 12 members of the Russian diplomatic service be expelled, and the only flight allowed from Russia since the ban took them home.

"The US government approved a flight chartered by the Russian government to facilitate the departure of Russian UN Mission personnel who were expelled for abuse of their privileges of residence," a State Department spokesperson told AFP.

Russia, for their part, denies this claim and says it will respond in kind. Nothing has yet been announced for what retaliation they may take. Using data from FlightTracker, CNN suggests that the plane was then used to take diplomats to Belarus to meet Ukrainian counterparts in face-to-face negotiations.

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What diplomatic discussions are happening?

The United Nations had a vote last week to criticise the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in which 141 of the 193 member states voted to condemn. 35 abstained and five voted against the motion: Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Syria and of course Russia. Both China and India abstained, underlying some support for Russia without open admittance of fault.

Between Russia and Ukraine there are fresh negotiations happening on Monday with the aim of securing humanitarian corridors for civilians to flee the fighting. Russia has been accused of deliberately attacking previous routes, as well as proposing routes that would take civilians into Russia, a move Ukraine's deputy prime minister called "completely immoral."

The US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan is still in Moscow, and as of yet there is no public discussion of his expelling or retreat from Russia.


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