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Russia Evacuates Diplomatic Staff From Yemen, Citing Deteriorating Security

Yemeni Huthi fighters chant slogans in the capital, Sanaa.
Yemeni Huthi fighters chant slogans in the capital, Sanaa.

All Russian diplomatic personnel have left Yemen and Moscow has temporarily suspended its diplomatic presence in the country because of the deteriorating security situation, the Russian Foreign Ministry says..

The Russian ambassador and a portion of the diplomatic staff will perform their duties out of the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on December 12.

Russian Ambassador Vladimir Dedushkin has been working out of Riyadh since last year and Moscow warned last week that Yemen risked spiraling into "military-political chaos."

Yemen's Saudi-backed government has been at war since 2014 with Iran-backed Huthi rebels, who seized control of the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.

The Saudi-led coalition has been blockading Sanaa's ports of entry. It said it granted permission for a Russian aircraft to evacuate diplomatic staff and other Russian nationals on December 12 from Sanaa, according to a statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

More than 8,750 people have been killed in the civil war, which has created what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The UN says millions in the country are on the verge of famine and lack clean water, fueling a cholera epidemic.

In its most recent statement, the Russian Embassy in Yemen said in August that it was concerned about the "high intensity of air strikes by the Arab coalition on Yemeni cities and towns that often lead to civilian casualties."

"Moscow still believes that there is no alternative to the early cessation of violence," the statement said, urging a resolution through UN-sponsored peace talks.

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, AFP, and AP