Italy, Denmark, Sweden to expel Russian

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https://www.politico.eu/article/italy-denmark-expel-russian-diplomats-over-security-concerns/

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The Russian embassy in Rome, Italy | Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

Italy is to expel 30 Russian diplomats, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio announced on Tuesday during a visit to Berlin.

He said the move was “for national security reasons.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the state-owned news agency TASS that there would be a response from Moscow to the expulsions, without giving details.

Also Tuesday, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted: “Denmark will expel 15 Russian intelligence officers working at the Russian embassy in Copenhagen. They pose a threat to our national security. It’s in our mutual interests to maintain diplomatic ties, but we will not accept Russian espionage on Danish soil.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde announced at a press briefing Tuesday that the country would also expel three Russian diplomats, because “they have not acted in accordance with the Vienna Convention and conducted illegal intelligence activities in Sweden.”

Linde did not rule out more diplomats being sent back to Moscow, but said such a decision would have to be examined in light of Sweden’s interests in keeping diplomats in Russia.

Italy, Denmark and Sweden are the latest European countries to expel Russian diplomats. On Monday, the German government made a similar move and sent 40 diplomats back to Moscow, while France kicked out 35 diplomats, saying that their activities were “against our national interests.”

On Tuesday, France’s EU Minister Clément Beaune said that the expulsions “were already discussed and looked at” in consultation with other countries including Germany, but that it was “not only directly related to [the atrocities committed by Russian troops in] Bucha.”

Beaune added that “in some territories, there are people presented as diplomats who were, or could be, threatening our essential interests.”

Lithuania, meanwhile, expelled on Monday Russia’s ambassador to Vilnius and recalled its top envoy to Moscow, while Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs announced that his country will “tighten diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation,” but that details will be published “once internal procedures have been completed.”

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