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Moscow vows response after US bars Russian aircraft from picking up diplomats

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Moscow says it will take countermeasures in response to Washington’s decision not to allow a Russian aircraft to pick up Russian diplomats and their families from the United States.

“The American side continues to systematically destroy bilateral relations that are already in a lamentable state,” Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said in a statement on Wednesday.

In February, the United States expelled 12 diplomats from Russia’s New York-based mission to the UN, accusing the staff of engaging in espionage activities. Moscow condemned the move as hostile and a gross violation of Washington’s commitments.

In the wake of the war in Ukraine on February 24, the United States closed its airspace to all Russian aircraft.

France, Italy and Spain are among Western countries that have expelled more than 300 Russians since the military operation began in Ukraine.

Russia launched the military operation in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

The US and its European allies have imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine. 

The supply of heavy weaponry to Kiev by the US and its NATO allies has further inflamed tensions between Moscow and Washington.

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