Italy orders the expulsion of 30 Russian diplomats for ‘security reasons’ as Denmark expels 15 Russian envoys over spying.
Denmark has ordered the expulsion of 15 Russian “intelligence officers” registered as diplomats in the country and Italy has expelled 30 Russian envoys “for national security reasons”.
Tuesday’s developments came after a string of moves against Russian diplomats in other European countries as well as the United States.
“The measure is in agreement with other European and Atlantic partners and is necessary for reasons linked to our national security and in the context of the current crisis caused by the unjustified aggression against Ukraine on the part of the Russian Federation,” Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said in a statement on Tuesday.
Russia will give an appropriate response, TASS news agency quoted Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.
Denmark’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the Russian citizens concerned will have 14 days to leave the country.
“We have established that the 15 expelled intelligence officers have conducted spying on Danish soil,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told reporters after a meeting in parliament.
Denmark wished to send a “clear signal” that spying in the Nordic country was “unacceptable”, he said.
Russia’s ambassador to Denmark was informed of the decision on Tuesday morning, where the government also expressed its condemnation of “Russia’s brutality against Ukrainian civilians in Bucha”.
“Deliberate attacks against civilians are a war crime,” it said.
At the same time, Copenhagen insisted on maintaining diplomatic relations with Moscow.
“Denmark does not wish to break diplomatic relations with Moscow. The Russian ambassador and the rest of the embassy in Copenhagen are therefore not included in the expulsion,” Kofod said.
Horrific images of corpses lying in the streets in the town of Bucha northwest of Kyiv, some with their hands bound behind them, following the Russian withdrawal have drawn international condemnation of Russia, and the EU is considering additional sanctions.
Moscow has denied responsibility, suggesting the images are fake or that the deaths occurred after Russian forces pulled out of the area.
But newly released satellite photographs taken by Maxar Technologies in mid-March, before the Russian withdrawal, showed what appeared to be bodies in some of the same places they were later found by Ukrainian troops and seen by journalists.
On Monday, France expelled 35 Russian diplomats, and Germany announced it had expelled a “significant number” of Russian envoys.