WASHINGTON, January 1. /TASS/. The Russian diplomats, who are forced to come back home upon the demand of the US authorities, have departed from Washington’s Dulles International Airport and are heading to Moscow, spokesman for Russia’s Embassy in the US Nikolai Lakhonin said.
"The plane has taken off," Lakhonin said, adding that all those who were due to leave Washington on January 1 are onboard the flight.
The plane of the Rossiya Special Flight Detachment had been earlier sent to bring the diplomats and their family members back home.
On December 29, the outgoing US administration slapped new sanctions on Moscow over the alleged hacking into US political institutions. These sanctions apply to several Russian companies, the Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Agency of Russia’s General Staff. Besides that, the US authorities declared 35 Russian diplomats persona non grata and shut down two recreational compounds in New York and Maryland owned by the Russian government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would not expel US diplomats from Russia in response to "unfriendly actions by the outgoing US administration.".