EU allies expel 200 Russian diplomats two days after killings in Bucha Russia

Nearly two hundred Russian diplomats were expelled from European countries this week in direct outrage at governments’ killings of Ukrainian civilians following the departure of the Moscow military.

As of Monday, 206 Russian diplomats and embassy staff, one of the biggest diplomatic setbacks in recent years, said governments in Italy, France, Germany and other countries could not stay, in addition to more than 100 reports. has already been thrown out since the last Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

As a result, the total number of expelled Russian diplomats and embassy staff has exceeded 325, and more are expected.

In Germany, where Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock said on Monday that 40 Russian embassy staff should leave, intelligence sources said diplomats were seen as a direct threat to Ukrainians living in Germany.

The deportations were described as an immediate response to the killing of civilians in the city of Bucha north of Kiev, which the German government called a war crime. Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found from towns near Kiev when Russian troops were withdrawn.

“Today, the government has decided to declare a persona non grata a significant number of people connected with the Russian Embassy, ​​who work here every day in Germany, against our freedom, against the cohesion of our society,” Burbock said.

On the eve of her announcement, Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Andreas Michaelis summoned Russian Ambassador Sergei Nechaev to inform him that the individuals have five days to pack up and leave Germany.

Sources in German intelligence told German media that among those subject to deportation were people who posed a “specific threat” to Ukrainian activists based in Germany, as well as to some 307,000 Ukrainian refugees who had arrived since the start of the war.

Burbock said Michaelis spoke to Nechaev about specific threats. “We will not tolerate this anymore. That’s what we told the Russian ambassador this afternoon, ”she added.

Sources in intelligence said they estimated that there were about 2,000 Russian spy suspects in Germany.

On Tuesday afternoon, Spain became the last country to announce the deportation, saying 25 diplomats and embassy staff should leave.

“The unbearable images of the massacre of civilians in the city of Bucha after the withdrawal of the Russian army, which we saw, deeply outrage us,” said Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albarez after a weekly cabinet meeting. He said diplomats and staff posed a “threat to the country’s interests” and would be expelled immediately.

Earlier, Italy said it was expelling 30 diplomats from what its foreign minister, Luigi Di Mayo, called “reasons for national security.” He said his ministry had summoned Russian Ambassador to Italy Sergei Razav to inform him of the Italian government’s decision, telling him that the people on the list had been deemed undesirable.

France expelled 35 diplomats on Monday, calling it part of a joint European action and describing the activities of those removed as “against our security interests”.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said the same day that he would expel the Russian ambassador as a sign of “Lithuania’s full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.” Her own ambassador to Russia will return to Vilnius in the near future, he said.

Slovenia said on Tuesday that 33 Russian diplomats should be expelled, and Estonia, which borders Russia, said it was sending 14 Russian consulate staff, including seven with diplomatic status. Portugal must expel 10 people.

Sweden’s foreign ministry has said three Russian diplomats, who it said were conducting “illegal operations”, should be left behind, while Denmark said 15 Russian intelligence officers it accused of espionage would be forced to leave. for 14 days. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that it will not expel the ambassador, as it does not want to completely sever diplomatic relations with Moscow.

Numerous Russian diplomats were expelled from the United States, the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Belgium last week.

For its part, Russia has so far said it will send several diplomats from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, but many more are expected.

On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said the deportations were part of a “pre-agreed campaign”, adding that they were counterproductive and would have a long-term effect.

“This is a blow to bilateral relations, to the channels of diplomatic discussions,” he said. He added that Russia would take “retaliatory measures”.

On Monday, former Russian President and Deputy Security Council Chief Dmitry Medvedev said the deportations were self-punishment by countries that called for them.

Medvedev said in his Telegram channel that Moscow’s response would be “symmetrical and destructive for bilateral relations.” Who did they punish? First of all, themselves. “

He said that although the move would save money, it would mean that countries would eventually face each other “attacking with weapons”.

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