Russia expels dozens of diplomats from France, Italy and Spain

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News|Russia-Ukraine war

Russia expels dozens of diplomats from France, Italy and Spain

Russia said it was expelling a total of 85 embassy staff in response to similar moves from the three European nations.

A car drives past in front of destroyed buildings, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Russia’s relations with leading European Union members have been damaged since it launched its war on Ukraine [Jorge Silva/Reuters]

Published On 18 May 202218 May 2022

Moscow has kicked out diplomats from France, Italy and Spain in retaliation for the expulsion of Russian diplomats from European countries as part of a joint action against Russia’s campaign in Ukraine.

Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it was expelling 34 “employees of French diplomatic missions” in Russia and gave them two weeks to leave the country.

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Moscow made the announcement after summoning France’s ambassador to Russia, Pierre Levy, and telling him that the expulsion of 41 employees of Russian diplomatic missions was a “provocative and unfounded decision”, the statement said.

The ministry later said that 27 employees of the Spanish embassy in Moscow and the Spanish Consulate General in Saint Petersburg “have been declared persona non grata” and will have seven days to leave Russia.https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZIS6xnwPFX8?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

The ministry told Spanish ambassador Marcos Gomez Martinez that the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Madrid “would have a negative impact on Russian-Spanish relations”.

In turn, Spain criticised Russia for the move.

“The Russian authorities justify this decision on the basis of reciprocity for the expulsion of 27 Russian embassy officials in April. But that expulsion was based on justified security reasons, which are not present in this case,” a foreign ministry statement said.

‘A hostile act’

While there was no official statement, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed to Russian news agencies that 24 Italian diplomats had also been expelled.

The Italian foreign ministry also confirmed the expulsion of “24 members of Italy’s diplomatic and consular representatives and of the Italian Trade Agency office” in Russia.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi condemned as a “hostile act” Russia’s decision, but said diplomatic channels must remain open.

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“This is clearly a hostile act; it’s also a reaction to our expulsions,” he told a press conference as news of the expulsions emerged.

He added: “The most important thing is that it must not in any way lead to a reduction of diplomatic channels because it’s through those channels that, if possible, peace [in Ukraine] will be achieved. And that is certainly what we want.”

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry in Paris said France “strongly condemns” the expulsion of its diplomats by Russia, adding that this step from Moscow had “no legitimate basis”.https://www.youtube.com/embed/zk_D8X0OU4c?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

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