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Fri, Jun 24, 2022

Airspace Restrictions Elicit Russian Threat

Row Over Expelled Diplomats Intensifies

The American side continues to systematically destroy bilateral relations that are already in a lamentable state.” So states Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

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—in the wake of the Biden administration’s subsequent refusal to allow a Russian aircraft to pick up the expelled diplomats and their families and return them to Russia—threatened counter-measures, possibly asymmetrical ones.

The war in Ukraine has precipitated worldwide outrage and seen the U.S. and its NATO allies align against the Russian Federation. In addition to trade sanctions and the freezing of Russian assets, many nations—to include the U.S., Canada, U.K., and all E.U. member-states—have closed their airspace to all Russian aircraft. Russian diplomats, too, have been ousted from posts not only in the U.S., but in France, Italy and Spain as well.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to expose and shut-down illegal U.S. bio-weapons laboratories in Ukraine, and expose the hypocrisy of U.S. political elites.

Zakharova—who asserted Russia is in possession of documents showing the Ukrainian health ministry ordered the destruction of samples of plague, cholera, anthrax and other pathogens prior to the 24 February invasion—called on Washington to come clean about what she termed “illegal activities in Ukraine”

The Pentagon has denied Russian claims that it has backed a bioweapons program or is developing such weapons in Ukraine.

FMI: www.state.gov

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