Russia announces the expulsion of Spanish, French and Italian diplomats

Russia announced on Wednesday that it will expel 27 Spanish diplomats, 34 French and 24 Italiansin response to similar measures taken by European countries, a context of tension after the offensive in Ukraine.

Russian diplomacy announced the expulsion of 27 Spanish diplomats, after declaring 34 members of the French delegation “persona non grata” and ordering the departure of 24 Italians.

Paris “strongly condemned” Russia’s announcement, considering that this decision was not based on “any legitimate foundation.”

“This decision is presented by the Russian side as a response to France’s decisions” in April, when “several dozen Russian agents” suspected of being spies were expelled, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

On the contrary, “the work of the diplomats and staff of our embassy in Russia is fully within the framework of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations,” he adds.

“The decision of the Russian authorities is not based on any legitimate basis. We can only regret it,” continues the statement from the French diplomacy.

For its part, Italy described the expulsion of its officials as a “hostile act”, but the head of the Italian government, Mario Draghi, stressed that it should be avoid “breaking diplomatic relations”.

“Diplomatic channels must not be broken, because if we achieve peace, we will achieve it through those diplomatic channels,” Draghi said during a press conference in Rome.

The Russian offensive in Ukraine, which began on February 24, has provoked a wave of international condemnation and a barrage of sanctions, accompanied by the expulsion of hundreds of Russian diplomats by Western countries.

Moscow has retaliated by expelling diplomats from the countries in question from its territory.

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