Austrian, Belgian, Dutch diplomats expelled from Russia

Austrian, Belgian, Dutch diplomats expelled from Russia

Austrian, Belgian and Dutch diplomats were booted from Moscow in reprisal for the ban of Russians.

Ambassadors of Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands were summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday and informed that a number of their diplomats had been declared non-gratae. Moscow was responding to the decision to expel Russian representatives over the conflict in Ukraine.

All four ambassadors received protests about their government's decision to expel Russian diplomats. Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands were informed of the number of diplomats who would have to leave Russia in response, while Luxembourg was let off with a warning.

Moscow said four of his employees had until April 24 to leave Russia after Vienna imposed a decision to expel four Russian diplomats on April 7 was an unfriendly act that seriously harms both bilateral relations and the international reputation of Austria.

Belgium s Mark Michielsen was given a list of Belgian diplomats who will have until May 3 to leave. On March 29, Brussels expelled 21 Russian diplomats accusing them of espionage and security threats. Ambassador Gilles Beschoor Plug of the Netherlands said 14 employees of the embassy in Moscow and a diplomat from the consulate-general in St. Petersburg had two weeks to leave Russia, in response to the March 29 expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats from the embassy in Amsterdam, and the permanent mission to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Georges Faber, ambassador of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, was handed a protest note over his government's decision to expel a Russian diplomat, and told Moscow that they will reserve the right to respond.

The US and many NATO allies have been expelling Russian diplomats since March, alleging they were spies and citing the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to retake the two republics by force.