Russia expels 85 diplomats from France, Spain and Italy in retaliatory move
Russia on Wednesday declared 85 diplomats from France, Spain, and Italy "persona non grata" in a retaliatory move, effectively ordering their expulsion, as the war in Ukraine rages on.
Russian foreign ministry in a statement said “as a response” to Paris, “thirty-four employees of French diplomatic missions in Russia have been declared persona non grata.”
It added that these French diplomats “are ordered to leave the territory of Russia within two weeks from the date of delivery of the relevant note to the ambassador.”
The ministry also noted that the step was taken in response to the expulsion of 41 Russian diplomats from France, referring to the expulsion of six Russian diplomats by Paris on April 11 and 35 others on April 4.
Earlier in the day, the Russian foreign ministry had summoned the French ambassador to Russia Pierre Levy to register a protest over the French government’s move to expel 41 Russian diplomats.
Reacting to the Kremlin’s decision, France said it “strongly condemns” the move, claiming that the expulsion of 34 French diplomats had “no legitimate basis,” and that “the work of the diplomats and staff at [France’s] embassy in Russia... takes place fully within the framework of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations.”
Russia also announced its decision to expel 27 diplomats from Spain and 24 from Italy, in a tit-for-tat move, on Wednesday.
Italian premier Mario Draghi called the announcement a “hostile act” and said diplomatic channels must not be interrupted.
“In repeating our firm condemnation of the aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation, Italy strongly demands an immediate ceasefire that will end the suffering of civilian populations and guarantee the start of concrete negotiations for a political and sustainable solution to the conflict,” the Italian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Spain’s foreign ministry rejected the decision as not based on the principle of reciprocity, citing “duly justified security reasons” for the expulsion of the Russian embassy staff from Madrid last month.
France, Italy, and Spain are among European nations that have ousted more than 300 Russians since Moscow launched the military operation on February 2.