Czech PM asks EU states to consider expelling Russian diplomats

Andrej Babiš spoke about the recent rift between the Czech Republic and Russia at the EU summit this weekend.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 09.05.2021 09:53 (updated on 09.05.2021)

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has asked other EU countries to consider expelling at least one Russian diplomat in solidarity with the Czech Republic over the recent Vrbětice case, he said before an informal EU summit meeting on Saturday.

A diplomatic dispute broke out between the Czech Republic and Russia about two weeks ago. Babiš shared information from Czech security forces that agents of Russian military intelligence GRU caused the two explosions in a ammunition depot in Vrbětice, South Moravia, in 2014 that killed two people.

The Czech government announced in mid-April that the Czech Republic would expel 18 Russian diplomats over the Vrbětice affair. Russia retaliated by expelling 20 Czech diplomats, and the Czech Republic reacted by announcing additional reductions in the number of Russian diplomats at the embassy in Prague.

Some European countries such as Slovakia and the Baltic states have expressed solidarity with the Czech Republic by expelling Russian diplomats.

Czech Deputy PM Jan Hamáček said that he expected other countries to take similar steps, and he mentioned Britain and Germany in this context.

Babiš said today that a relatively long debate was held about this issue on Friday, during which French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke.

As the current summit is informal, no written statement will be issued. A discussion about relations with Russia is expected at the official European Council summit on May 25.

Babiš asked for condemnation of the Vrbětice attack at the next meeting of the European Council.

"When one member state is attacked, it is in fact an attack against all. I also asked them to consider expelling at least one diplomat. We will see at the next summit what stance will be taken," Babiš said.

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