Slovakia ejects dozens of Russian diplomats – reports
The Slovakian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday ordered Russia to remove 35 staff from its embassy in Bratislava, Reuters reported. Countries across Europe are making similar moves to cut Russia’s presence in their capitals.
The latest news comes two days after Russia removed three Slovakian diplomats from Moscow, a tit-for-tat response to Bratislava expelling three of their Russian counterparts earlier this month. Moscow called the move “unjustified,” while the Slovaks claimed the envoys were involved in espionage.
Since Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine last month, European governments have responded by whittling down Russia’s diplomatic presence in their countries. Belgium, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands on Tuesday expelled a combined 40 Russian embassy staff members, citing similar accusations of spying.
Russia has responded in kind. In a statement on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had expelled ten embassy staff from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, a week after these Baltic countries declared several Russian diplomats persona non grata.
Russia has fiercely protested the expulsions. Responding to Ireland’s decision on Tuesday, Russia’s embassy in Dublin slammed the move as “arbitrary” and “groundless,” adding that it would “only deteriorate further Russian-Irish relations, already damaged by the Irish participation in illegitimate EU sanctions against Russia.”