48 Russian diplomats expelled from EU states
Italy, Denmark, and Sweden will be expelling a total of 48 Russian diplomats.
Italy, Denmark, and Sweden have voted to expel a total of 48 Russian diplomats, making them the latest EU nations to take such action in the ongoing diplomatic crisis sparked by Moscow's operation in Ukraine.
Last week, EU members Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic all declared the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats allegedly suspected of spying.
Slovakia soon followed suit with 35 diplomats expelled. Slovakia had expelled three Russian officials for claims of espionage earlier in March, and in retaliation for the country's decision, Russia deemed three Slovakians as persona non grata.
On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of the three nations informed the Russian embassies of their choices.
As part of the measure, Denmark would remove 15 Russian diplomats. Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod has given the Russian ambassador two weeks to depart the country.
The Danish foreign ministry claims Russian diplomats were using their status to collect intelligence for Moscow.
“This will signal to Moscow that we won’t accept Russian intelligence officers spying on Danish territory,” he said.
“They constitute a risk for our national security, which we cannot overlook. Along with a number of our closest allies, we therefore put our foot down on the espionage the identified persons practice under the cover of diplomatic status.”
Despite the expulsion, the Danish Foreign Ministry said it wishes to retain diplomatic ties with Moscow, which is why the ambassador and other members of staff are not being expelled.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio also notified the ambassador that the nation will expel 30 Russian diplomats due to "security concerns."
Foreign Minister Ann Linde of Sweden announced that the country has decided to deport 3 Russian diplomats "whose work in Sweden is not in accordance with the Vienna Convention."
Norway has said it is considering similar moves but has not yet made a decision.
Germany has decided to expel a significant number of Russian diplomats on Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.
According to AFP, Berlin's move involves 40 Russians.
France on the other hand said on Monday that it will expel 35 Russian diplomats as part of a coordinated European response.