A Russian government charter flight landed at Dulles International Airport in Virginia Saturday to retrieve Russian diplomats who were expelled from the U.S. this week on accusations of espionage.
The U.S., Europe and Canada have closed their airspace to Russian planes following the invasion of Ukraine, but the State Department said it approved a flight to remove members of the Russian Mission at the United Nations.
A dozen such personnel were accused Monday of being “intelligence operatives” engaged in espionage, NBC Washington reported.
Flight radar trackers show the plane took off from St. Petersburg and took an unusual flight path to avoid European and Canadian airspace. It landed at Dulles just after 2 p.m.
Chopper4 captured video of the plane landing and a line of vehicles, including minibusses, meeting the aircraft on the tarmac.
The State Department issued the following statement:
“The U.S. government approved a flight charted by the Russian government to facilitate the departure of Russian UN Mission personnel who were expelled for abuse of their privileges of residence. This special exception was done in accordance with federal regulations to ensure Russian mission personnel and their families departed by the date we had instructed.”