Expelled Russian diplomats return from US amid spy dispute

Dozens of Russian diplomats who were expelled from the US by President last week were seen arriving back in Moscow on Sunday. 

The 60 officials and their families were driven out of Moscow's Vnukovo-2 Airport in inconspicuous vans, buses and cars after arriving on two separate flights. In total, 117 people were sent back to Russia from the US. 

The first plane departed from Washington, carrying 46 diplomats and their families. The others took off from New York. 

Before they left on Saturday, the group from Washington were waved off by crowds of friends who gathered at the Russian embassy.  

An Ilyushin II-96 aircraft carrying expelled Russian nationals is pictured arriving in Moscow on Sunday from the US. It was one of two aircraft which brought 171 diplomats and their families back to Russia after they were thrown out of America

An Ilyushin II-96 aircraft carrying expelled Russian nationals is pictured arriving in Moscow on Sunday from the US. It was one of two aircraft which brought 171 diplomats and their families back to Russia after they were thrown out of America

Once they had landed, the Russians were taken out of the airport on buses and in cars. None of the individuals were pictured

Once they had landed, the Russians were taken out of the airport on buses and in cars. None of the individuals were pictured

A car carrying Russian diplomats is followed by a larger van from the tarmac at the airport on Sunday 

A car carrying Russian diplomats is followed by a larger van from the tarmac at the airport on Sunday 

 Another of the vans carrying Russian diplomats. Two planes left from Washington DC and New York on Saturday 

 Another of the vans carrying Russian diplomats. Two planes left from Washington DC and New York on Saturday 

As they were bussed away on coaches, the group of children and adults who had come to see them off were pictured outside. 

All were thrown out of the US last week by who said they had been working as spies under the cover of diplomacy. 

Their expulsion is the latest indicator of worsening relations between the Russia and the West. 

Earlier this month, a Russian double agent and his daughter were poisoned in the UK.

Britain alleges Russian involvement in the March 4 nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury. 

Moscow adamantly denies that and has ordered tit-for-tat expulsions of Western diplomats. 

On Saturday, officials were seen closing down the US Consulate in St Petersburg. 

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