Russia expels 20 Czech diplomats in retaliation

Published April 19, 2021
People hold up a pair of red underpants during a protest over the Russian intelligence services alleged involvement in an ammunition depot explosion in Vrbetice area in 2014, outside the Russian Embassy in Prague on April 18. - Reuters
People hold up a pair of red underpants during a protest over the Russian intelligence services alleged involvement in an ammunition depot explosion in Vrbetice area in 2014, outside the Russian Embassy in Prague on April 18. - Reuters

MOSCOW: Russia expelled 20 Czech diplomats on Sunday in retaliation for a slew of diplomatic expulsions by Prague and gave the affected officials just over 24 hours to leave the country.

The Czech Republic had expelled 18 Russian diplomats the previous day saying that two alleged Russian spies accused of a nerve agent poisoning in Britain in 2018 were behind a deadly explosion at a Czech ammunition depot four years earlier.

In Moscow, Russia’s foreign ministry summoned the Czech ambassador over Prague’s expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats.

The United States and Poland came out in solidarity with the Czech Republic’s decision to expel Russian diplomats and accused Moscow of being behind an explosion at a Czech ammunition dump in 2014.

“The US stands with the Czech Republic in its firm response against Russia’s subversive actions on Czech soil,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price in a statement on Twitter.

“We must act firmly in response to Russian actions that compromise the territorial integrity, energy security, or critical infrastructure of our allies and partners.”

In Warsaw, the foreign ministry said in a statement that Poland fully supported Czech Republic’s decision to expel Russian diplomats.

“Allied solidarity and quick action make us strong. Poland fully supports the decisions on the expulsion of the Russians diplomats involved in the explosion in the ammunition depot in 2014,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2021

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