Russia protests Czech expulsion of its diplomats

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LONDON

Russia on Sunday protested the decision of the Czech Republic to expel 18 Russian diplomats, terming it “unfounded.”

“We will take retaliatory measures that will force the authors of this provocation to fully understand their responsibility for destroying the foundation of normal ties between our countries,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It described the move “hostile,” and a “continuation of a series of anti-Russian actions” by the Czech Republic.

The ministry said that the move was to please the US, which recently imposed sanctions against Russia.

The Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian diplomats for alleged links to an explosion in 2014, Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced on Saturday.

There is clear evidence that the Russian diplomats were linked to Russian secret agents and were involved in the 2014 explosions of an ammunition depot in the South Moravian Region, Babis said.

The explosion killed two people and hundreds were evacuated from the region.

Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamacek conveyed the decision to the Russian Embassy in Prague and President Milos Zeman has been informed, he said.

The diplomats were asked to leave the country within 48 hours.

Britain has said it “stands in full support” of Czech allies.

A government statement said the two GRU (Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate) officers who were charged with the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018, were also behind the explosion in Czech town of Vrbetice.

British intelligence had accused Russian citizens Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and charged them for the Novichok attack in Salisbury.

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