More than 330 Russian diplomats have been expelled from European countries since Russia waged war on Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Most countries cited breach of the Vienna Convention, security threats, and alleged espionage by the Russian diplomats for expelling them, while others declared them personae non gratae to show solidarity with Ukraine.
After the release of footage from the Ukrainian city of Bucha that many have depicted as “horrifying and regrettable for humanity,” Germany, France, and Italy accelerated their actions against Russia.
A total of 150 Russian diplomats were expelled until April 1, with more than 182 others just after the recent release of images of civilian deaths in Bucha.
The EU has declared a number of Russian diplomats working in Brussels personae non gratae, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced.
Italy expels 30 Russian diplomats
Italy decided to expel 30 Russian diplomats over “national security” concerns as Russia’s war on Ukraine rages on, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.
“This measure, taken in coordination with other European and Atlantic partners, was made necessary by motives related to our national security, in the context of the current crisis situation stemming from the unjustified aggression of Ukraine by the Russian Federation,” he added.
Germany expels 40 Russian diplomats
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the country has decided to expel dozens of Russian diplomats in response to “the war crimes committed in Ukraine.”
The German Foreign Ministry did not announce the exact number of Russian diplomats declared persona non grata, but the German news agency DPA reported that the government has ordered the expulsion of 40 diplomats.
France announced its decision to expel “many Russian diplomats” hours after President Emmanuel Macron called for fresh sanctions in the light of alleged atrocities committed by Russian forces in Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
According to media reports, the action will impact 35 Russian diplomats.
Spain decided to expel around 25 Russian diplomats and embassy staff, the Spanish foreign minister said.
Jose Manuel Albares noted that the decision was taken over Russia’s “terrible actions” in Ukraine, particularly in the cities of Bucha and Mariupol, where mass civilian casualties have come to light.
Poland expelled 45 Russian diplomats on suspicion of spying, the country’s interior minister announced last month.
“With full consistency and determination, we are breaking up the agents of the Russian secret services in our country,” Mariusz Kaminski said on Twitter.
Slovenia, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Czechia, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia are also among the European countries that have expelled Russian diplomats.
The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on Feb. 24, has drawn international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
At least 1,480 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 2,195 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.
More than 4.27 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.