Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia to expel Russian diplomats in Czech solidarity

The former Soviet bloc countries will expel a total of four Russian diplomats in an expression of solidarity with the Czech Republic

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 24.04.2021 17:34 (updated on 24.04.2021)

Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia will expel a total of four Russian diplomats as an expression of solidarity with the Czech Republic, Reuters has reported, citing Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Lithuania will expel two Russian diplomats, and Latvia and Estonia one each.

Moscow immediately responded that Russia would react to the steps taken by the Baltic nations.

Rinkēvičs tweeted that Latvia had decided to expel a Russian diplomat to show solidarity with its Czech ally over violations of the Vienna Convention.

Latvia would not tolerate subversive activities in its territory or in the territory of its partners and allies, Rinkēvičs said.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) welcomed the decision of the Baltic countries.

"I thank very much Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia for supporting the Czech Republic and for the gesture of solidarity in the form of the expulsion of four Russian diplomats. We highly value this," Babis has tweeted.

Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek thanked the Baltic nations, too.

"Thank you, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, for your clear solidarity and for standing by us," Kulhanek tweeted.

"The Baltic countries have always been very close friends and allies of the Czech Republic," he added.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that Moscow would react to the expulsion of its diplomats from the Baltics.

"Their diplomats can start dealing with whom of them will have to pack their things," she told the Russian news agency TASS.

Last weekend, a diplomatic rift flared up between Prague and Moscow over suspicion that the Russian GRU military secret service was behind the devastating explosions in the Czech ammunition depot in Vrbětice in 2014.

The Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian embassy employees, and Moscow retaliated by expelling 20 employees of the Czech embassy in Moscow.

In reaction to the Russian move, Prague decided on Thursday to further reduce the number of diplomats and other staff at the Russian embassy, to the same number of employees at the Czech embassy in Moscow.

Slovakia announced the expulsion of three Russian diplomats on Thursday. PM Eduard Heger said Slovakia will tolerate the disrespect of agreed-upon rules by members of foreign diplomatic missions, and he expressed solidarity with the Czech Republic.