Major countries in Europe are now engaged with expulsion of diplomats. The move was initiated by NATO-camp countries. Russia has warned of’ symmetrical’ response to Western countries’ expulsion of Russian diplomats
A Reuters report said:
‘Russia will respond proportionately to the expulsion of its diplomats from a number of Western countries, Russian ex-president and deputy head of Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said late on Monday.
‘”Everyone knows the answer: it will be symmetrical and destructive for bilateral relations,” Medvedev said in a posting on his Telegram channel.
‘”Who have they punished? First of all, themselves.”’
On Monday, France said it would expel 35 Russian diplomats over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and Germany declared “significant number” of Russian diplomats as undesirable,.
“If this continues, it will be fitting, as I wrote back on 26th February – to slam shut the door on Western embassies,” Medvedev said. “It will be cheaper for everyone. And then we will end up just looking at each other in no other way than through gunsights.”
Other media reports said:
Germany has decided to expel 40 diplomats at the Russian embassy in Berlin for suspected links to spy agencies, Bloomberg reports. The move also serves as a “first response” to the killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
“The federal government has therefore decided today to declare as persona non grata a significant number of members of the Russian Embassy who have worked every day against our freedom and against the cohesion of our society here in Germany,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement.
She said images of the victims in Bucha reveal “the unbelievable brutality of the Russian leadership,” and said there’s concern similar photos could come out of other areas of Ukraine, per Bloomberg.
“We will initiate further measures of response together with our partners; we will further tighten the existing sanctions against Russia; we will resolutely increase our support for the Ukrainian armed forces and we will also strengthen NATO’s eastern flank,” Baerbock added. The diplomats now have five days to leave the country.
Last week, Bloomberg had reported that Germany was considering expelling a “large number” of suspected Russian spies.
Later Monday, France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs announced it would also be expelling from the country numerous Russia diplomats “whose activities are contrary to our security interests,” per Axios.
Over the weekend, Ukrainian soldiers working to reoccupy the suburb of Bucha discovered mass graves filled with corpses and roads strewn with civilian bodies. International outrage and allegations of war crimes and genocide immediately followed the reports.
Moscow has “categorically denied” having killed any civilians in Bucha, Sky News reports, though Ukraine does not buy that claim.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who visited Bucha on Monday, explicitly accused Russia of genocide over the apparent atrocities in Bucha.
The Russian government has pushed conspiracy theories about Bucha, claiming that the images were faked or staged while denying that it was involved in the massacre.
Russia said the Russian forces left the area on March 30, the mayor said there was no Russian soldier on streets, and the killings were found four days later. Russia has requested UN Security Council session on the issue.