Moscow (Times Of Ocean)- As part of the tit-for-tat diplomatic fallout of the Ukraine war, Russia on Tuesday declared 15 Dutch diplomats and an unspecified number of Belgians persona non grata, effectively expelling them.
On its website, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that 14 employees of the Dutch Embassy in Moscow and one employee of the Dutch Consulate in St. Petersburg must leave Russia within two days.
It is being taken in response to the expulsion of 18 employees of the Russian Embassy and the Russian Trade Mission in Amsterdam on March 29, as well as the Russian Mission to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
“Netherlands must also strictly adhere to OPCW Headquarters Agreement 1997 and cannot abuse its privileges as host state,” the ministry said.
Belgian diplomats must leave Moscow by May 3 or they will be expelled, the ministry said in a separate statement. Ambassador Marc Michielsen had been summoned as well.
As relations between Russia and the European Union deteriorated over Russia’s war with Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, both the Netherlands and Belgium expelled diplomats based on alleged spying.
More than 443 Russian diplomats have been expelled from at least 20 countries over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with nations in Europe and beyond responding to reports of dead civilians left near Kyiv following Russian retreat.
On April 8, the Japanese government on Friday expelled eight Russian diplomats after Russia killed civilians in Ukraine, a rare move.
The move came after European Union nations, including France and Germany, announced this week they would expel more Russian diplomats. Russia denies targeting civilians in the conflict in Ukraine, where it says it has launched a “special operation”.
Further, Japan’s minister of industry said Tokyo planned to gradually reduce the imports of Russian coal while seeking alternative suppliers as a result of the sanctions against Moscow.
In addition to expelling diplomats, Japan has banned the import of coal, machinery, wood and vodka from Russia, frozen assets of Russia’s largest banks, including Sberbank and Alphabank, and banned 400 Russian lawmakers and senior military officials, as well as 20 Russian companies linked to military projects.
Days later, Croatia has expelled eighteen Russian diplomats and six administrative staff members working at the Russian embassy in its capital Zagreb, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
“Eighteen diplomats and six members of administrative staff (24 employees in total) at the Embassy of the Russian Federation have been asked to leave the Republic of Croatia,” a ministry statement said.
France is expelling six Russians for alleged spying under diplomatic cover after its intelligence services uncovered a clandestine operation on its soil, according to the foreign ministry as The Times Of Ocean learned on April 12.
In a statement, the foreign ministry said that six Russian agents operating under diplomatic cover whose activities were found to be counter-productive to our national interests had been declared persona non grata.
Continuing the tit-for-tat diplomatic fallout from the Ukraine war, Russia on April 15 expelled 18 European Union diplomats from Moscow in retaliation for Brussels’ personae non gratae declaration earlier this month against 19 Russians.
In a statement on April 5, the EU said the 19 Russian diplomats had engaged in activities contrary to their diplomatic status and ordered them to leave Belgium.