The mass expulsion of Russian officers from embassies throughout Europe accelerated on Tuesday amid outrage over Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine and rising concern about spies masquerading as diplomats.
Italy, Spain, Denmark and Sweden introduced the expulsion of a complete of 73 Russian diplomats, following comparable strikes in latest days by Germany, Poland and Slovakia.
The strikes took the variety of Russian diplomats ejected from the EU for the reason that invasion of Ukraine to not less than 293, in accordance with Financial Times calculations.
The actions characterize an additional effort to isolate Russia internationally and can shut down extra communication channels between Moscow and the EU.
The newest expulsions got here as EU finance ministers met in Luxembourg to debate imposing even harsher sanctions on Moscow following the obvious killing of Ukrainian civilians by its troops within the Kyiv suburbs.
Luigi di Maio, Italy’s overseas minister, stated throughout an official journey to Berlin that Rome had branded 30 Russian diplomats unwelcome individuals.
“This decision . . . was made necessary by reasons linked to our national security,” the official Italian information company, ANSA, quoted Di Maio as saying. He added that the expulsions had been spurred by “the current crisis situation caused by the unjustified attack on Ukraine by the Russian Federation”.
Denmark individually introduced it was expelling 15 Russian diplomats, with Jeppe Kofod, overseas minister, calling them “a threat to our national security”.
“It’s in our mutual interest to maintain diplomatic ties, but we will not accept Russian espionage on Danish soil,” Kofod wrote on Twitter.
Sweden additionally introduced the expulsion of three Russian diplomats from the nation. A senior Swedish safety official stated final yr: “We know that every third Russian diplomat works under what we call ‘diplomatic cover’ and actually works for one of Russia’s intelligence services.”
Russian diplomats turned away from their postings in latest days embrace 40 from Germany on Monday, 45 from Poland, and 35 from Slovakia.
After Italy’s expulsion of diplomats was introduced, a Russian overseas ministry official stated Moscow would “give a corresponding response”, Russia’s Tass information company reported.