Russia expels 20 Czech diplomats in retaliation | European news
Russia is giving diplomats just over 24 hours to leave the country, in response to the Czech expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats.
Russia expelled 20 Czech diplomats on Sunday in retaliation for a series of diplomatic expulsions from Prague and gave affected Czech diplomats just over 24 hours to leave the country, the RIA news agency said citing the Ministry of Affairs. foreigners.
The Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian diplomats on Saturday, giving them 72 hours to leave, after claiming that two Russian spies allegedly accused of nerve poisoning in Britain in 2018 were behind a deadly explosion in a Czech ammunition depot four years earlier.
The Czech Republic said it informed NATO and EU allies that it suspected Russia of being behind the 2014 explosion, and EU foreign ministers were scheduled to discuss the matter at their meeting on Monday.
The US State Department praised Prague’s steadfastness in the face of “Russia’s subversive actions on Czech soil.”
The dispute is the largest between Prague and Moscow since the end of decades of Soviet rule over Eastern Europe in 1989.
This is also in addition to growing tensions between Russia and the West in general, sparked in part by Russia’s military build-up at its western borders and in Crimea, which Moscow annexed to Ukraine in 2014, after an upsurge. fighting between the government and the pro-Russians. armed forces in eastern Ukraine.
Czech police said they were looking for two Russians in connection with the 2014 explosion that killed two people and who carried passports used by suspects in the attempt to poison former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in 2018.
Russia said the Prague accusations were absurd because it had previously blamed the Vrbetice explosion, 300 km (210 miles) east of the capital, on the owners of the depot.
He called the deportations “following a series of anti-Russian actions taken by the Czech Republic in recent years”, accusing Prague of “trying to please the United States in the context of recent US sanctions against Russia” .
Earlier this week, the United States announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Washington called Kremlin interference in the US election, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity .
Russia responded similarly, saying it would expel 10 U.S. diplomats and take further retaliatory measures in a tense confrontation with Washington.
EU and NATO partners backed Czech officials, with UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab saying on Sunday that Britain “fully supports our Czech allies”.
“I strongly condemn the subversive activities aimed at the security of … our closest neighbor and ally,” Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok said in a tweet.
“To kill the citizens of the Czech Republic on its territory by another country is almost an act of war,” protester Tomas Peszynski told AFP news agency at a rally in front of it on Sunday afternoon. Russian Embassy in Prague.
About 100 demonstrators carried banners saying, “We are not Russia’s backyard.” They chanted “Shame” while waving EU and NATO flags.
The day before, police arrested seven people who had coated the embassy wall with ketchup, a symbol of blood.
Czech politicians joined in the outcry, with government ministers saying Russian companies should not participate in the planned construction of a new multi-billion euro nuclear unit for security reasons.
“I can’t imagine (Russian energy giant) Rosatom going as far as the safety assessment,” Industry Minister Karel Havlicek said.