NEWS: Russia
20 Russian diplomats expelled from 4 European countries.

Bul­gar­ia, Latvia, Lithua­nia and Esto­nia have expelled a total of 20 Russ­ian diplo­mats, prompt­ing the threat of an “appro­pri­ate response” from the Russ­ian For­eign Ministry.

Bul­gar­ia on Fri­day gave 10 diplo­mats 72 hours to leave the coun­try, Lithua­nia expelled four Russ­ian diplo­mats while Latvia and Esto­nia expelled three each.

The diplo­mats were expelled as part of a coor­di­nat­ed action “in con­nec­tion with activ­i­ties con­trary to their diplo­mat­ic sta­tus and in light of the ongo­ing Russ­ian aggres­sion in Ukraine,” Lat­vian For­eign Min­is­ter Edgars Rinke­vics said on Twitter.

The Eston­ian For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment that it expelled diplo­mats because they were “direct­ly and active­ly under­min­ing Esto­ni­a’s secu­ri­ty and spread­ing pro­pa­gan­da jus­ti­fy­ing Rus­si­a’s mil­i­tary action.”

Lithua­nia said its expul­sions were made “in sol­i­dar­i­ty with Ukraine.

The Bul­gar­i­an For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment that an offi­cial note had been deliv­ered to the Russ­ian ambas­sador in the cap­i­tal Sofia demand­ing that 10 diplo­mats leave Bul­gar­ia with­in 72 hours for their alleged involve­ment in “activ­i­ties incom­pat­i­ble with their diplo­mat­ic status”.

Eleono­ra Mitro­fano­va, Russ­ian ambas­sador to Bul­gar­ia, called the deci­sion an “unfriend­ly act.”

“We per­ceive this as an extreme­ly hos­tile act and we reserve the right to retal­i­ate,” Mitro­fano­va said in a state­ment car­ried by the TASS news agency.

“All unfound­ed expul­sions of Russ­ian diplo­mats will receive an appro­pri­ate response,” said Maria Zakharo­va, spokes­woman for the Russ­ian For­eign Ministry.

This is the sec­ond wave of expul­sions of Russ­ian diplo­mats from Bul­gar­ia. On March 2, Sofia expelled two Russ­ian diplo­mats for alleged espionage

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Bul­gar­ia, Rus­si­a’s clos­est ally dur­ing the Cold War but now a Euro­pean Union mem­ber state and part of the NATO alliance that con­demned the inva­sion of Ukraine, has expelled eight more Russ­ian diplo­mats for alleged espi­onage since Octo­ber 2019.

On Mon­day, Slo­va­kia, an EU and NATO mem­ber, expelled three Russ­ian embassy staff mem­bers based on infor­ma­tion from its secret service.

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