Czechs say Russia’s retaliation is stronger than expected, encouraging EU solidarity

Prague — The Czech Republic said on Monday that Russia’s expulsion of 20 Czech embassy employees in response to the expulsion of 18 Russian staff in Prague was a stronger reaction than expected, and the government would consider further measures. Stated.

Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said at a video conference on Monday that he called on fellow European Union foreign ministers to “express solidarity.”

“Based on this … we learn more expressions of support and expect it to be up to the Member States to make concrete decisions.”

Central European countries ordered Russian diplomats on Saturday saying that Russian intelligence was suspected of being involved in the October and December 2014 ammunition depot explosions.

Protest against Russian intelligence alleging involvement in the 2014 ammunition detonation explosion in Prague
On April 18, 2021, a man with the NATO flag passed by a police officer outside the Russian Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic. (David W Cerny / Reuters)

“The reaction (by Russia) is stronger than we expected and is more diplomat than the number of intelligence agents we expelled,” Hamacek said at a television press conference.

“I will meet with the Prime Minister to discuss if and when the Czech side needs to take a step further.”

The Czech government has prima facie suspicion that two Russian intelligence agencies accused of nerve gas poisoning in the United Kingdom in 2018 were behind an ammunition dump explosion four years before they were killed. Stated.

The Russian Foreign Ministry described the case as a blow to bilateral relations and criticized Prague’s decision not to disclose all details of the investigation to Moscow.

“This is evidence that the entire story is a forged, dirty, disgusting fake,” said RIA news agency Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This line is the largest line between Prague and Moscow since the Soviet Union ruled Central and Eastern European countries in 1989.

The Kremlin commented on the allegations that Russian intelligence was involved in the explosion and the subsequent diplomatic expulsion, calling the Czech Republic’s actions “provocative and unfriendly.”

According to the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Russian embassy in Prague has 129 diplomats and other personnel, and the two regional consulates are about twice as large as the Czech embassy in Moscow, where Russia’s countermeasures have hit hard. It is the size of.

By Jason Hovet, Jan Lopatka, Alexander Marrow

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