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Russia and Ukraine to expel a diplomat each as tensions simmer

Russian President Putin Chairs A Meeting Via Video Link Outside Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russia accused a Ukrainian diplomat on Saturday of trying to obtain classified information and ordered him to leave the country by April 22, prompting a like-for-like response from Ukraine as border tensions simmer.

Russia’s FSB security service said Oleksandr Sosoniuk had been detained when he tried to access information from Russian law enforcement databases during a meeting with a Russian citizen.

The foreign ministry gave Sosoniuk 72 hours to leave, and Ukraine then did likewise to a Russian diplomat in Kyiv.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Sosoniuk had been held for several hours before being allowed to return to his consulate in St Petersburg, and called the detention a provocation.

“We fully deny the accusations levelled against the consular officer,” it said in a statement.

Tensions between Moscow and Kyiv have been rising amid a build-up of Russian troops along the border and clashes in eastern Ukraine between the army and pro-Russian separatists.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday pressed for peace talks with Moscow.

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