Western nations expel Russian diplomats
Nations in Europe have responded to what they say are atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine by expelling hundreds of staff members from Russian diplomatic missions.
The expulsions were ordered after images of civilians allegedly killed in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, northwest of the capital Kiev, were released by the Ukrainian government and Western media. Kiev accused Russian troops of massacring civilians in what it claimed to be an act of genocide. Moscow denied the allegations and said Ukraine and its foreign backers were waging a fake news campaign aimed at discrediting Russia’s military operation.
The Ukrainian government said more damning evidence against Russia was bound to be discovered soon. Russian officials alleged that Kiev plans further provocations and that the goal was to impede ongoing peace talks between the two nations.
Western diplomatic expulsions targeting Russians were taking place before the Bucha incident. RT has compiled a list of nations that have kicked out Moscow’s diplomats since Russia attacked Ukraine in late February.
- North Macedonia. On April 15, the country said it was expelling six diplomats for “activities” in violation of international law regarding diplomatic missions. Previously, on March 28, North Macedonia ejected five Russian diplomats.
- France. On April 11, France declared six Russian diplomats persona non grata over accusations by the French foreign ministry that they were “agents operating under diplomatic cover whose activities were found to be contrary to our national interests.” Paris claims that following a long investigation, on April 10, its domestic intelligence service uncovered a “clandestine operation carried out by the Russian intelligence services” on French soil. Before that, on April 4, France showed multiple Russian diplomats the door for allegedly conducting “activities [that] are contrary to our security interests.” According to BFM TV, 35 diplomats were ordered to leave the country.
- Croatia. On April 11, Croatia ordered 18 Russian diplomats and six administrative and technical staff out of the country. Zagreb demanded “immediate cessation of hostilities in Ukraine and withdrawal of Russian troops” as it announced the move.
- Norway. On April 6, Norway said it was expelling three Russian diplomats, citing their alleged activities as being incompatible with their status. Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt referred to "reports of Russian forces' crimes against civilians" on announcing the move.
- Luxembourg. On April 6, Luxembourg announced it had decided to expel a single Russian diplomat in a gesture of "solidarity with the vast majority of EU states, which have also already taken such steps." The diplomat had allegedly compromised the duchy's security interests.
- Greece. On April 6, Greece announced it would expel 12 Russian diplomats.
- Romania. April 5, Romania ejected 10 diplomats, arguing they violated the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.
- Portugal. April 5, Portugal expelled 10 diplomats it accused of “undermining” its national security.
- Sweden. April 5, Sweden sent out three diplomats it said were “undertaking illegal intelligence-gathering operations.”
- Denmark. On April 5, Denmark expelled 15 Russian diplomats and called the images from Bucha “another example of brutality, cruelty and war crimes”.
- Italy. On April 5, Italy sent out 30 diplomats. Prime Minister Mario Draghi called for an independent investigation of the events in Bucha while simultaneously blaming “President [Vladimir] Putin, the Russian authorities and its army” for the incident.
- Slovenia. On April 5, Slovenia expelled 35 Russian diplomats. The move was described as expressing “the strongest protest and dismay at the massacre of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha and other towns”.
- Germany. On April 4, Berlin announced the expulsion of an unspecified number of Russian diplomats. The broadcaster ZDF reported 40 people could be expelled. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock decried what she called the “unbelievable brutality of the Russian leadership and of those who follow its propaganda.”
- Lithuania. On April 4, Latvia downgraded its diplomatic relations with Russia, calling it a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine. It recalled its ambassador from Moscow and ordered his Russian counterpart in Vilnius out. It also shut down a Russian consulate in Klaipeda. On March 18, Lithuania expelled four diplomats over “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status.”
- Latvia. On April 4, Latvia downgraded its diplomatic relations with Russia. It recalled its ambassador from Moscow while ordering the Russian ambassador to leave. It also expelled 13 Russian diplomats and shut down two consulates. On March 18, Latvia expelled three diplomatic staff members over Russia’s “continued aggression in Ukraine.”
- Estonia. On April 4, Estonia ordered two Russian consulates to close and its staff to leave the country. On March 18, Estonia expelled three Russian diplomats, accusing them of “actively undermining Estonia’s security and spreading propaganda, justifying Russia’s illegal warfare.”
- Slovakia. On March 30, Slovakia announced it was expelling 35 Russian diplomats, claiming they had violated the Vienna Convention. Earlier on March 14, it announced expelling three Russians for the same reason and arrested three people on allegations of spying for Moscow.
- Belgium. On March 29, Belgium expelled 21 members of the Russian diplomatic mission, citing “espionage” and “security threats.”
- The Netherlands. On March 29, the Netherlands expelled 17 Russian diplomats describing them as intelligence operatives working under diplomatic cover.
- Ireland. On March 29, Ireland expelled four diplomats, arguing their “activities have not been in accordance with international standards of diplomatic behavior.”
- The Czech Republic. On March 29, the Czech Republic expelled one person.
- Poland. On March 23, Poland expelled 45 Russian diplomats, who Warsaw said were involved in intelligence operations threatening the security of Poland and its allies.
- Bulgaria. Bulgaria expelled two Russian diplomats on March 2 and a further ten on March 18. They were accused of violating the Vienna Convention.
- Montenegro. On March 4, Montenegro expelled one member of the Russian diplomatic mission, accusing him of violating the Vienna Convention.
- The US. On February 28, the US said it was expelling 12 Russian diplomats working in the Russian delegation to the UN. The diplomats were engaged in “espionage activities” harmful to American national security, Washington claimed. The move came days after Russia attacked Ukraine, but had been in the works for months, according to US officials.
Canada said it was considering expelling Russian diplomats over Bucha, but so far has not moved to do so.
Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and deputy chair of the Russian national security council, commented on the expulsion spree on Monday, saying the gestures could not change Russian foreign policy.
“If things keep going that way,” he said, “then the better option would be to put padlocks on Western embassies. That would be cheaper for everyone. And then we’ll definitely look at each other only through weapon scopes.”
Moscow launched a large-scale offensive against Ukraine in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military alliance. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two rebel regions by force.