U.S. Secretary of State voices support for Czech Republic in Russia rift

"The United States fully supports the Czech Republic's strong and courageous response to Russia," says Anthony Blinken.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 02.05.2021 20:26 (updated on 02.05.2021)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced support for the Czech Republic in its diplomatic conflict with Russia during a phone call with Czech PM Andrej Babiš today, Blinken has tweeted. Two weeks ago, Babiš identified Russian secret service involvement in an explosion in an Czech ammunition depot in Vrbětice in 2014.

"I was pleased to speak with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš today. I reiterated that the United States fully supports the Czech Republic's strong and courageous response to Russia’s deadly and destabilizing actions on Czech territory," Blinken tweeted.

A diplomatic rift between Prague and Moscow flared up on April 17 over the announcement that Russian GRU military secret service agents were behind explosions in an ammunition depot in Vrbětice, south Moravia, in 2014.

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

The Czech government also excluded the Russian company Rosatom from the tender for the construction of a new unit in the Dukovany nuclear power plant in south Moravia.

The U.S. Department of State issued a statement today saying Blinken and Babiš agreed on "the need for continued unity and resolve in response to destabilizing actions by Russia."

"The Czech government’s decisions to exclude Rosatom from the Dukovany nuclear tender and dramatically reduce the Russian intelligence presence in Prague have increased the security of the Czech Republic and the NATO Alliance," the statement reads.

Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have expelled Russian diplomats as a gesture of solidarity with the Czech Republic. This week, Bulgaria also expelled a Russian diplomat as a persona non grata; the country suspects six Russians of four attacks on Bulgarian ammunition warehouses.

As was the case in Vrbětice, Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev also stored weapons and ammunition in the Bulgarian depots. The arms were designated for Ukraine and Georgia.

Washington had previously expressed support for the Czech Republic via the U.S. Ambassador to Prague immediately after the Vrbětice case erupted.