Russia’s reaction to Czech diplomat expulsions stronger then expected -Czech minister

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 Russia’s eviction of 20 Czech embassy staff in response to the Czech Republic’s expulsion of 18 Russian staff was a stronger-than-expected reaction and the government will consider further steps, acting foreign minister Jan Hamacek said on Monday.

“The reaction is stronger than we had expected, it is more diplomats than the number of intelligence officers we expelled,” Hamacek told a televised news conference. 

Acting Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said he had asked fellow European Union foreign ministers for “an expression of solidarity” at a video-conference on Monday.

“I expect that also on the basis of this…, we will learn about more expressions of support and it will be up to member states if they add some concrete decisions.”

The central European country ordered the Russian diplomats out on Saturday, saying it suspected Russian intelligence was involved in a 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot.

“The reaction (by Russia) is stronger than we had expected, it is more diplomats than the number of intelligence officers we expelled,” Hamacek told a televised news conference.

“I will meet the prime minister and discuss whether and when it will be needed to take some further steps from the Czech side.”

The Czech government has said it has reasonable suspicion that two Russian intelligence agents accused of a nerve agent poisoning in Britain in 2018 were behind the ammunition depot explosion four years before that killed two people. 

Photo: Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

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