Russia Expels 36 EU Diplomats After About 400 Russian Officials Booted From Europe
Russia has announced a move to expel 36 European diplomats, declaring 21 diplomats from Belgium and 15 from the Netherlands “persona non grata”, in a Tuesday announcement where they’ve been told they have two weeks to leave Russian soil.
At least four Austrian diplomats are being expelled as well, as part of retaliatory measures after multiple waves of expulsions of Russian officials from Europe. “European countries have kicked out more than 300 Russian embassy staff since Moscow sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24,” Reuters has tallied. Other media estimates have said it’s actually around 400 Russian officials expelled in total as of mid-week.
In return, “Russia has stepped up its response in the past week by expelling diplomats from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and the European Union, as well as the Dutch, Belgians and Austrians.”
Late last month after the Netherlands first expelled 18 Russian envoys, the foreign ministry slammed the move as “groundless” – also calling similar action by Belgium deeply “provocative”. In many instances the Russian officials face vague accusations of “spying” by their host countries.
All of this is alarming for the prospect of the war spiraling into an eventual direct NATO-Russia confrontation, given that as direct communications largely cease – more Western weapons are being transferred into Kiev. Also of major importance is that Russia’s ambassador to Washington has described a total communications “blockade” – as no one in the Biden administration will so much as speak to him.
NOW: More than 400 suspected Russian spies who were posing as diplomats have been kicked out of Russian embassies across 20 European countries.
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) April 19, 2022
At the same time, the official ceasefire dialogue between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations appear at a standstill, with the Kremlin accusing Kiev of “inconsistency” – while the West blames Russian actions particularly in the city of Mariupol, which has been decimated, as stalling any hoped-for progress on talks.
This after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Sunday that he would end all talks with Moscow if Russian forces kill the remaining Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol. Kiev officials have been saying a Bucha type massacre is likely to unfold in the Black Sea port city in the southeast.
Today I was summoned at the Foreign Ministry to be told that 15 Dutch diplomats are expelled from #Russia. This is supposed to be a reaction to our earlier #expulsion from The Hague of 17 Russian intelligence officers. Well… there is a difference and I don’t mean the numbers. pic.twitter.com/LtEUyrS7oH
— Dutch ambassador to Russia (@GillesBP) April 19, 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in last week, at that point already saying the negotiations have reached a “dead end” – ultimately as he was “told the Ukrainian party changed something in their negotiating positions.” And spokesman Dmitry Peskov assessed early this week that “The momentum in the negotiation process leaves much to be desired. But the military operation is continuing.”
Thu, 04/21/2022 – 04:15