Moscow deports 20 Czech diplomats in response to 18 Russian diplomats’ deportation from Prague
Defence Redefined
Published on 19/04/2021 at 08:26

Russia announced the deportation of 20 Czech diplomats in response to the Czech government’s decision to deport 18 Russian diplomats accused of espionage.

Moscow has given Czech diplomats 14 hours to leave the country, RIA Novosti reported, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Czech government yesterday decided to deport 18 Russian diplomats after announcing that two Russian agents, accused of poisoning former Russian agent Sergei Skripal with the nerve agent Novichok in Britain in 2018, were behind a bomb blast in 2014, which killed two people.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the Czech ambassador to Moscow, Viteslav Pivonka, had been summoned to the ministry where he was told about the unfriendly decision by Prague against the staff of the Russian diplomatic mission in the Czech Republic.

“Mr. Pivonka has been informed that 20 employees of the Czech embassy in Moscow have been declared persona non grata. They must leave our territory before the end of April 19, 2021,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. Yesterday, the Czech authorities announced the deportation of 18 Russian diplomats, who are involved, according to the Czech Intelligence Services, in the ammunition depot explosion of the Czech army in 2014, which killed two people. The Czech police say they are looking for two Russian citizens believed to be involved in the explosion in an ammunition depot.

Also read: J. Stoltenberg | Moscow should cease its provocations and de-escalate tensions

They used the same passports as the two suspects in the case of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal poisoning attempt with nerve agent Novichok in Britain in 2018. The two suspects are believed to be agents of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service.

The names on their passports are Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Bosirov and their real names are said to be Alexander Miskin and Anatoly Cepiga. Investigations by the Czech authorities showed that the two entered the Czech Republic five days prior to the explosion and left on the day of the incident.

They had sent an email to arrange a visit to the military facility where the ammunition depot was located and ended up in a hotel in Ostrava, in the area where ​​the facility is located.

At the time of the blast, weapons from these Czech facilities were to be loaded to be sent to a Bulgarian mediator, Emilian Gebrev, who was supplying Ukrainian military forces. Emilian Gebrev was poisoned in Sofia in May 2015. Moscow has said it believes Washington has approved the deportation of Russian diplomats.

“In their desire to thank the United States after the US sanctions against Russia, the Czech authorities have surpassed their teacher,” according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The United States announced a few days ago the imposition of sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in response to Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2020, the large-scale US cyber attack in 2020 (SolarWinds) and other hostile actions.

Also read: Czech Republic | Deportation of 18 Russian over Army ammunition depot blast in 2014 – VIDEO

Source: CNA





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