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Russia, Ukraine to Expel a Diplomat Each as Tensions Simmer

FILE - A bird is silhouetted against full moon in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 29, 2021. Russia on Saturday ordered the expulsion of Ukraine's consul in St. Peterburg for allegedly trying to obtain classified information.

Russia accused a Ukrainian diplomat Saturday of trying to obtain classified information and ordered him to leave the country by April 22, prompting a tit-for-tat 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 of Sosoniuk a provocation. "We fully deny the accusations leveled 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 Russia-backed separatists. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday pressed for peace talks with Moscow.