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Politico: Russian jet that just landed in the United States is picking up spies

March 05, 2022
3 min read
An Ilyushin Il-96 airliner prepares to land at Sofia Airport, Bulgaria.
Politico: Russian jet that just landed in the United States is picking up spies
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A Russian jet that has captured the imagination of skywatchers everywhere has now landed in Washington, D.C. Politico reporter Daniel Lippman was the first to report the plane is in the United States to pick up Russian spies that are being kicked out of the country.

The plane— an Ilyushin Il-96 — took off from St. Petersburg in Russia and as you can see from the flight path posted on FlightAware has now landed at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Flight path of Russian Ilyushin Il-96 jet. (Screenshot courtesy FlightAware)

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It's unclear when the plane will depart the U.S. or if it will make any more stops.

Lippman spoke with me on Saturday from D.C. and said, the "State Department told me it's to pick up the expelled Russian diplomats mostly from the Russian mission to the United Nations. There's one Russian staffer who works at the U.N. they also expelled."

“The U.S. government approved a flight chartered by the Russian government to facilitate the departure of Russian UN Mission personnel who were expelled for abuse of their privileges of residence,” according to a statement given to Politico from a State Department spokesperson.

A specially modified Ilyushin Il-96 airliner prepares to land at Sofia Airport, Bulgaria. (Photo by Anton Balakchiev/Stocktrek Images via Getty)

President Joe Biden closed United States airspace to Russia in Tuesday's State of the Union address. “Tonight I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding an additional squeeze on their economy,” he said.

This plane was given special permission to make the flight.

Lippman told me he thinks it was the same plane "previously used to fly Russian diplomats to Belarus for peace negotiations this week ... It's been getting a lot of use the last week ... all tied up with the conflict."

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When I asked Lippman how unusual all this was, he said it reminds him of "The Americans," a popular series that aired on FX about Soviet spies living in the United States in the 1980s at the height of the Cold War.

Lippman said it was all a part of cutting Russia off from the world for its invasion of Ukraine, "and planes are a part of that."

Featured image by Getty Images/Stocktrek Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees