WASHINGTON, April 1. /TASS/. Two planes carrying Russian diplomats expelled from the United States and their family members have departed for Moscow on Saturday, Russian embassy officials told TASS.
Russia’s US ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, earlier said that two planes were dispatched to carry a total of 171 people - the expelled diplomats and their family members - back to Russia.
The first plane has already taken off from New York and is now making a stopover of about two or three hours in New York to take 14 families expelled from the consulate general and Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations on board.
The other plane, which is to fly directly to the Russian capital, has taken off from the Washington Dulles International Airport at about 1:00 Moscow time on April 1.
According to Antonov, the embassy "did its best to ensure that the departure takes place in a calm and organized manner."
Expulsion of diplomats
In a show of solidarity with London’s stance over the reported poisoning of former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, the United States declared 60 Russian diplomats personae non gratae on March 26. Among them are 46 diplomats from the embassy in Washington, two from the consulate general in New York and 12 more from Russia’s mission to the United Nations.
On Thursday, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman was summoned to Russia’s Foreign Ministry to be notified that Russia declared 58 diplomats of the US Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg personae non gratae, they were ordered to leave the country by April 5. Besides, Russia revoked the consent to the operation of the US consulate-general in St. Petersburg.