Tue, 05 Jul 2022

Russia on Wednesday announced the expulsion of 85 French, Spanish and Italian diplomats in retaliation for moves by France to expel 41 Russians in April, in the wake of Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.

"Thirty four employees of French diplomatic missions in Russia have been declared persona non grata," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding they had two weeks to leave the country.

The ministry then announced that 27 employees of the Spanish embassy in Moscow and the Spanish Consulate General in Saint Petersburg had also been declared persona non grata.

Meanwhile ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian media that 24 Italian diplomats had also been expelled.

Condemnation

Paris "condemned" Wednesday's move by Moscow, which comes as fighting continues in eastern Ukraine and the first Russian soldier was tried for war crimes.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi dubbed it an "hostile act," saying it must not harm its "diplomatic channels" to Moscow.

"It is through those channels that, if we succeed, peace will be achieved and that is certainly what we want," Draghi said.

Ukraine troops evacuated from Azovstal steelworks as Russia takes control French car company Renault sells Russian assets, closes Moscow operation

France in April kicked out 35 Russians with diplomatic status as part of a broader wave of expulsions that saw more than 300 Russians sent home from European capitals.

Later that month France's Foreign Ministry declared six Russian agents posing as diplomats as "persona non grata" after an investigation by the domestic intelligence services concluded they were working against French national interests.

(with wires)

Originally published on RFI

More Barcelona News

Access More

Sign up for Barcelona News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!