Russia allowed diplomats just over 24 hours to leave the country, in response to the Czech expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats.
The RIA news agency quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying Russia on Sunday expelled 20 Czech diplomats in retaliation for the deportation of a bunch of Prague diplomats and affected Czech diplomats for just over 24 hour to leave the country.
Czech Republic on Saturday expelled 18 Russian diplomats, giving them 72 hours to leave, after saying that two Russian spies allegedly poisoned with nerve agents in the UK in 2018 were behind a deadly explosion at a Czech ammunition depot four years earlier.
The Czech Republic said it informed its NATO allies and the European Union that they suspect Russia caused the 2014 explosion, and EU ministers were prepared to discuss the matter at the meeting. on monday.
The US State Department commended Prague’s stern response to “Russia’s subversive actions on Czech soil”.
The biggest fence between Prague and Moscow since the end of the decade the Soviet Union dominated Eastern Europe in 1989.
It also increased tensions between Russia and the West in general, partly due to Russia’s increased military military on the western border and in Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, after a growing skirmish between government and pro-Russian ones. forces in eastern Ukraine.
Czech police said they were looking for two Russians involved in the 2014 blast that killed two people and passport holders used by suspects in the poisoning of former Russian double agents. Sergei Skripal in 2018.
Russia claims the Prague accusation is ridiculous as it previously blamed the explosion at Vrbetice, 300 km (210 miles) east of the capital, on the owner of the warehouse.
It called the deportation “a continuation of a series of anti-Russian actions taken by the Czech Republic in recent years”, accusing Prague of “trying to please the United States in the context of near sanctions. here of the United States to Russia ”.
Earlier this week, America announcement of sanctions and expelled 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Washington said was the Kremlin’s US election interference, a massive cyberattack and other hostile activities.
Russia responded kindly, saying it would expelled 10 US diplomats and take other retaliation moves in the tense confrontation with Washington.
EU and NATO partners sided with Czech officials, with British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab saying on Sunday that Britain “fully supports our Czech allies”.
“I firmly condemn subversive activities aimed at the security of … our closest neighbor and ally,” Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok said in a tweet.
Demonstrator Tomas Peszynski told the AFP news agency at a rally outside the Russian embassy in Prague on Sunday afternoon: “Killing a Czech citizen on his own territory on his own territory, it is almost like an act of war.
About 100 protesters held up banners: “We are not Russia’s backyard”. They chanted “Shame” while waving the EU and NATO flags.
On the night before, police arrested seven people who had smeared ketchup on the embassy wall, symbolizing blood.
Czech politicians joined in outrage, with government ministers saying Russian companies should not participate in the plan to build a new billions of euros worth of nuclear units for security reasons. .
Industry Minister Karel Havlicek said: “I cannot imagine (Russia’s energy giant) Rosatom going as far as security assessment.”