28 Apr 2021 13:15

Russia expels 2 Lithuanian, 1 Latvian, and 1 Estonian diplomat on principle of reciprocity - Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW. April 28 (Interfax) - Russia is expelling two Lithuanian diplomats and one diplomat from Latvia and Estonia each, and they are due to leave within a week, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Latvian Ambassador Maris Riekstins, Lithuanian Ambassador Eitvydas Bajarunas, and Estonian Charge d'Affaires ad interim Piret Reintamm Benno were summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, it said.

"Based on the principle of reciprocity, we demanded that two employees of the Lithuanian embassy and one employee of the embassies of Latvia and Estonia each leave the territory of the Russian Federation within a seven-day period," a statement published on the ministry website said.

"Strong protest was expressed to the heads of the diplomatic missions in connection with the provocative and baseless expulsions of employees of the Russian embassies in those Baltic republics. It was pointed out that Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn are continuing an openly hostile policy toward our country, in this case, under the pretext of pseudo-solidarity with the unfounded steps of the Czech Republic in regard to Russia," the ministry said.

On April 17, the Czech authorities announced a decision to expel 18 Russian diplomats. Prague described them as intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover. The Czech authorities explained their move with the alleged involvement of the Russian security services in explosions that occurred at an ammo depot in Czechia in 2014, which left two people dead.

In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry declared 20 officers of the Czech embassy in Moscow personae non gratae.

The Czech government asked its partners to expel some of the probable intelligence agents working in Russian embassies from the capitals of EU and NATO member states. Slovakia has also demonstrated solidarity with Czechia by deciding to expel three Russian diplomats. Lithuania will expel two officers of the Russian embassy, and Latvia and Estonia will expel one diplomat each, same as Romania.