NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday, April 27, avoided a direct answer to the question about the possible expulsion of Russian diplomats from the alliance countries or the deprivation of their accreditation with NATO as a sign of solidarity with the Czech Republic.
“The NATO Allies adopted a very strong statement on the Czech Republic, expressed our solidarity with the Czech Republic. <...> We saw how members of the alliance expressed solidarity with the Czech Republic in different ways, expelled Russian officials, Russian employees, “he said during a press conference broadcast in Twitter…
Stoltenberg stressed that he does not want to speculate on this topic, while noting that the allies have already expressed support for the Czech Republic and “deep concern” about Russia’s actions.
On April 17, Czech Prime Minister Andrei Babis announced that the country’s authorities suspect the Russian special services of involvement in the explosion at an ammunition depot in Vrbetica in 2014. On the same day, the Czech Republic announced its decision to expel 18 Russian diplomats.
Russia responded by declaring 20 employees of the Czech embassy in Moscow persona non grata a day later. The accusations in Moscow were categorically denied, and the fact that Prague does not publish a report on the explosion, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova called evidence of a lie.
As explained in the Russian Foreign Ministry, as a result of the mutual expulsions of diplomats, by May 31, seven diplomats, 25 technical staff and 19 people will remain in the embassies of the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation.
Also, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Slovakia announced the expulsion of employees of the Russian embassies as a measure of solidarity with the Czech Republic.
In addition, on April 20, the Czech Republic called on its NATO and EU allies to expel Russian diplomats as a sign of solidarity. On the same day, the Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad Group (Poland, Slovakia and Hungary) expressed solidarity with the latest actions taken by the Czech authorities in relation to Russia.