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Russia expels Dutch, Belgian diplomats in retaliatory move

Russian Foreign Ministry accuses Netherlands of abusing its rights and privileges as chemical weapons pact host state

MOSCOW

Continuing the tit-for-tat diplomatic fallout from the Ukraine war, Russia on Tuesday declared 15 Dutch diplomats and an unspecified number of Belgian diplomats persona non grata, effectively expelling them.

In a statement on its website, the Foreign Ministry said 14 employees of the Dutch Embassy in Moscow and one employee of the Dutch Consulate in St. Petersburg must leave Russia within two days.

The step is being taken in response to the expulsion on March 29 of 18 employees of the Russian Embassy in The Hague, the Russian Trade Mission in Amsterdam, and Russia’s mission to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the ministry said.

The ministry also said the Netherlands cannot abuse its rights and privileges as an OPCW host state and that The Hague must strictly comply with the 1997 OPCW Headquarters Agreement.

In a separate statement, the ministry said it had summoned Belgian Ambassador Marc Michielsen and informed him about the expulsion of Belgian diplomats from Moscow, who must leave by the end of May 3.

Both the Netherlands and Belgium had expelled diplomats based on alleged spying, as relations between Russia and the European Union further deteriorated over Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.

The war has led to thousands of deaths, millions of people displaced, and a broad range of sanctions on Russia, in particular by the EU and US.

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