Europe expels Russian diplomats; Moscow warns of worsening ties
Tensions between Russia and Europe over the Ukraine crisis take a new turn with Europe announcing the expulsion of Russian diplomats and Moscow warning the move will worsen ties.
Denmark said on Tuesday it will expel 15 Russian diplomats, in line with steps taken by other European Union countries, after reports of mass graves being found and of civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
Italy has expelled 30 Russian diplomats because of security concerns, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said. Italy summoned Russia's ambassador to the foreign ministry to tell him that the diplomats were being expelled.
The move comes after several other European Union countries including France and Germany on Monday said they would expel Russian diplomats.
Moscow, which claims images of executed civilians in Bucha were fake products of Ukrainian and Western propaganda aimed at discrediting Russia, said it would retaliate for the expulsion, RIA Novosti reported.
The Danish foreign ministry said that it did not want to cut diplomatic ties to Moscow and that the Russian ambassador and the rest of the embassy were not part of the expulsion.
Berlin did not specify the number of diplomats, but the Russian embassy in Berlin said that 40 members of Russian diplomatic missions in Germany had been told to leave the country.
Russia decried the German decision as "unfriendly", warning that it would worsen ties.
"The unfounded reduction in the number of diplomatic staff at Russian missions in Germany will narrow the space for maintaining dialogue between our countries, which will lead to a further deterioration in Russian-German relations," the embassy said in a statement posted on Telegram.
Western countries have slapped unprecedented sanctions on Russia since the military operation was announced in Ukraine in late February, heightening tensions between them.
German police said they had shut down the servers of Hydra, a sales site for Russian-speaking customers that was accessible via the darknet, and seized bitcoins worth 23 million euros.
Lithuania also said it was expelling Russia's ambassador to the Baltic country. The Baltic country would also close Russia's consulate in the port city of Klaipeda, and recall its envoy to Moscow "in the near future".
US, Europe to hit Russia with new sanctions
US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said fresh sanctions would be announced this week against Moscow.
He told reporters that discussions about sanctions with European allies include "options that relate to energy."
European Union is also working on a new package of sanctions against Russia aimed at restricting the leasing of airplanes and the import and export of products like jet fuel, steel products, and luxury goods, a report in CNBC said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Western allies would agree on further sanctions against Moscow in the coming days.
France's European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said the European Union will most likely adopt a new round of sanctions on Wednesday.