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Prague expels 18 Russian diplomats accused of espionage and sabotage

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The Czech Republic announced on Saturday the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats identified as members of Moscow’s intelligence services. These agents were allegedly involved in the explosion of an ammunition depot in 2014, according to Prague.

The rag is burning between Prague and Moscow. The Czech authorities announced, Saturday, April 17, the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats, identified as agents of the intelligence service of the Russian army, the GRU.

The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis For his part, explained that his country had “irrefutable evidence” implicating GRU agents in an explosion at an ammunition depot that killed two people in 2014.

“We have good reason to believe that agents of unit 29155 of the GRU are involved in the explosion of an ammunition depot in Vrbetice,” in the east of the country, the prime minister said.

He said he received this information on Friday, without explaining why the Czech government was only getting this information now.

“The explosion caused immense material damage and endangered the lives of many people, but above all it killed two of our compatriots,” added Mr. Babis.

These revelations will “harm Russian-Czech relations,” lamented Mr. Hamacek, who had just taken the place of his pro-European counterpart Thomas Petricek in Foreign Affairs while keeping his duties as Minister of the Interior.

Rising tensions in Eastern Europe

Mr Petricek was fired on Monday by pro-Russian Czech President Milos Zeman after opposing the use of the Russian vaccine against Covid-19 Sputnik V without the European green light.

A pro-European social democrat, Mr. Petricek had also criticized a possible participation of Russia in a project in the nuclear sector.

“We find ourselves in a situation similar to that of the United Kingdom in the aftermath of the poisoning attempt in Salisbury in 2018,” added Mr Hamacek, referring to the case of Sergei Skripal, a former double agent who had survived a attack by Russian services on British soil.

Mr. Hamacek said he had summoned Russian Ambassador Alexander Zmeevsky this Saturday evening.

Poland announced Thursday that it expelled three Russian diplomats accused of “hostile actions” after the United States took similar measures as part of a response to a series of acts blamed on Moscow.

The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday evening promised retaliation, according to statements published on the Sputnik website. “Prague knows full well what will follow with such tricks,” said Maria Zakharova.

With AFP


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