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Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, and the Czech Republic announced on Monday, in a coordinated action, the expulsion of more than 40 Russian diplomats from their territories for alleged espionage. They stressed that the decision was taken because the officials’ work did not meet international and diplomatic standards.
Announcing the measure, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney explained that they will seek ways to maintain the means of communication with the Russian government for the benefit of its citizens. He added that this action was taken under Article 9 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
“The Government continues to believe that diplomatic channels between Ireland and the Russian Federation should remain open. This is in the interests of our citizens as well as to ensure that we can continue to have a diplomatic channel of communication between Ireland and the Russian Federation in the future,” Coveney wrote in a statement.
Russian diplomats pose a threat
Sophie Wilmès, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, explained that at least 21 people working at the Russian Embassy have been identified for being involved in espionage and influence activities. She maintained that this represents a threat to her country’s national security.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the decision was made in alliance with other European countries to decrease the presence of Russian intelligence in Europe. “The MFA informed the Russian Embassy in Prague that one of its diplomatic staff had been declared persona non grata and was requested to leave Czechia within 72 hours,” the institution wrote on Twitter.
Other European countries had already announced the expulsion of Russian officials due to their intelligence work. Just last week, Polish government spokesman Stanisław Żaryn announced that the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs had summoned the Russian ambassador and detailed that 45 Russian diplomats would be expelled from Poland.
Everything happens at the same time that the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine published a list with the name of more than “600 Russian spies” working in Europe. The document indicates that these would be Federal Security Service workers.
The list has names, phone and passport numbers, registration addresses, license plate numbers and, in some cases, financial details of the officials. It also details the home addresses of some individuals.