World

About 150 Russian diplomats expelled from Europe in 48 hours

It’s a purge diplomatic in good and good shape. After France and Germany on Monday, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Spain in turn expelled dozens of diplomats Russian this Tuesday. These forced exiles mark a further deterioration of relations with Moscow after the discovery of massacres attributed to Russian troops near Kiev

Italy Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Tuesday decided to expel 30 Russian diplomats from the country on “national security” reasons. “This measure, taken in concert with our European and Atlantic partners, was made necessary for reasons related to our national security and in the context of the current crisis situation linked to the unjustified aggression of Ukraine by the Russian Federation,” said the head of Italian diplomacy.

Moscow denies involvement

Westerners expressed their outrage this weekend after the discovery of dozens of bodies wearing civilian clothes Butcha, northwest of Kiev, after the withdrawal of the Russians. Russia, for its part, firmly rejected his involvement, denouncing a Ukrainian “staging” which, according to Moscow, was intended to denigrate the image of Russian soldiers.

In the wake of reports of Boutcha’s death, Lithuania announced the expulsion of the Russian ambassador “in response to Russia’s military aggression against sovereign Ukraine and the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces”.

A “threat” to refugees

Germany announced the same day that it would expel “a large number” of Russian diplomats stationed in Berlin, according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. According to information from AFP, their number would rise to 40.

These employees of the Russian embassy posed “a threat to those who seek protection from us,” she justified. Germany welcomes more than 300,000 refugees Ukrainians who have fled the fighting in their country since February 24.

“Activity contrary to the interests” of France

A few minutes later, France announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats “whose activities conflict with” [ses] interests,” said a source close to the French Foreign Ministry. And Tuesday morning, the Denmark has also decided to expel 15 Russian diplomats who “performed espionage activities on Danish soil,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said.

The Sweden also announced the expulsion of three Russian diplomats in the middle of the day, followed by Spain, which decided to expel “immediately” about 25 Russian diplomats who posed a “threat to the interests” of the country. Several European states had already taken similar measures.

“Russian spies” instead of “diplomats”

On March 29, the Belgium announced the expulsion within 15 days of 21 people working for the Russian embassy and consulate suspected of involvement “in espionage and influence operations threatening national security”.

The same day, the Netherlands had decided to expel 17 people “who are recognized as diplomats at Russian representations in the Netherlands”, but “are secretly active as intelligence officers”. On March 23, Poland, through its Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski, announced the expulsion of 45 “Russian spies posing as diplomats.”

“Lack of foresight” and “retaliation”

A total of some 260 Russian diplomats have been expelled from various EU countries since the start of the Russian invasion, according to an AFP count. the Kremlin for its part, Tuesday denounced Europe’s “lack of foresight”.

“We regret that. The reduction in the ability to communicate at the diplomatic level in these difficult circumstances “indicates a “lack of foresight that will further complicate relations between Russia and the EU,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the press. inevitably lead to retaliation,” he added.