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Diplomats on the move as Russians and Americans return home

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Diplomats on the move as Russians and Americans return home

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The Russian diplomats ordered out of the United States have arrived back home, along with dozens of large crates seen to be unloaded from the planes at Vnukovo airport near Moscow.

Two flights arrived, one from New York and the other from Washington with 171 Russians on board, the 60 diplomats and their families.

It is the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats from the US since Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

"Today dozens of our colleagues, Russian diplomats, are leaving the United States of America. They are not United States enemies, the United States authorities have expelled friends of the US. Our diplomats were developing cooperation between Russia and the USA," insisted Russia's US ambassador Anatoly Antonov.

There have been similar scenes in St. Petersburg, where the US consulate is being closed down and shuttered as an identical number of US diplomats have been expelled.