After more than a decade of furtively infiltrating America, members of a Russian spy ring busted by the FBI returned Friday to their masters in Moscow, following a swap on an Austrian tarmac for four Russian prisoners who were whisked to freedom in Britain or the United States.

The exchange took place on a remote part of the Vienna airport runway. The transaction, the climax of a tightly choreographed operation, brought a swift end to a saga that gripped America, with its cast of “sleeper” agents, including a sultry Russian redhead.

The swap reflected both governments’ desire to keep the scandal from tarnishing their improving relations. The Obama administration did not want months of U.S. court hearings about the spies to cast a shadow over important bilateral business, including a new nuclear-arms treaty being considered by the Senate.

Moscow’s agents — nine Russians and a Peruvian-born naturalized U.S. citizen — boarded a Russian government Yak-42 jet about noon in Vienna after disembarking from a U.S. charter plane that had carried them overnight from New York.

They were traded for four Russians who were jailed for years because of their contacts with the West. Some were in poor health, U.S. officials said.

Two of the freed Russians arrived Friday evening at Dulles International Airport near Washington, according to a U.S. law enforcement official. One of them, Alexander Zaporozhsky, is a former KGB officer who helped U.S. agents crack the case of American spy Robert Hanssen, officials said.

Zaporozhsky had lived in Cockeysville, Md., in the late 1990s before being lured back to Moscow and arrested. He and Gennady Vasilenko, also a former KGB officer, were met at Dulles by a line of SUVs that sped them to an unknown destination, according to the Associated Press.

The other Russians had alighted from the chartered plane earlier during a stop at a British military base. U.S. officials identified them as Sergei Skripal, a KGB colonel charged with spying for Britain, and Igor Sutyagin, an arms control researcher.

The Russian “sleepers” who were traded in Vienna arrived at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport Friday evening and were taken away in a convoy of vehicles. Anna Chapman, the redhead whose role in the spy scandal has carried her to celebrity status, called her sister from the runway, saying, “Everything’s fine, we’ve landed,” the Russian Web site reported.

The 10, arrested June 27, were expelled after pleading guilty to serving as unregistered foreign agents for Russia. An 11th suspect disappeared after being released on bail in Cyprus.

The espionage affair has exposed Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, to widespread ridicule at home. While investing years and large amounts of money to groom and plant the agents — seven of whom adopted bogus identities — the SVR obtained no classified information, U.S. officials said.

The four Russian citizens flown to Britain and the United States were set free under a pardon signed late Thursday night by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Sutyagin, the best known, was detained by Russian authorities in 1999 while he was working at the USA Canada Institute, a Moscow think tank.

He was convicted in 2004 of passing classified information about submarines to a British company, which Moscow alleged was a front for Western intelligence agencies. Sutyagin has always denied being a spy.

Zaporozhsky reportedly retired from the KGB in 1997 after two decades with the service. A year later, he appeared in Washington with his wife and two sons. Russian news reports said he had defected.

He returned to Russia in 2001 for what he thought was a KGB reunion and was arrested at the airport.

Zaporozhsky’s children still live in the Washington area.