Russia Expels Czech Diplomats in Retaliation for Prague Expulsions

Russia on April 18 has ordered 20 employees of the Czech embassy to leave the country a day after the Czech government’s expulsion of Russian diplomats.

Russia declared the Czech diplomats as “persona non grata” and ordered them to leave by the end of April 19.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it informed Czech Ambassador Vitezslav Pivonka of the decision and called the Prague’s expulsion of the Russians as “unprecedented” and “hostile.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also alleged that Prague’s expulsion had a “trace” of involvement by the United States.

“In their desire to please the United States against the background of recent U.S. sanctions against Russia, Czech authorities in this respect even outdid their masters from overseas,” the Russian Foreign Ministry also stated.

Last April 17, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek, who is also the interior minister, said in a statement that 18 employees of the Russian Embassy in Prague, who were “clearly identified” as secret agents, must leave within 48 hours.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis also said that Czech intelligence and security services provided “unequivocal evidence” that the Russian diplomats were involved in the massive explosion of an ammunitions storage depot in a forest at Vrbětice in the Czech Republic on Oct. 16, 2014.

Czech police also said they identified two Russian suspects connected to the 2014 explosion — Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepigov.

Earlier this week, the United States expelled 10 Russian diplomats and imposed sanctions due to the “SolarWinds” cyber attack and interference in the elections last year, as well as Russia’s recent tensions with Ukraine.

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