France, Germany and Lithuania announce the expulsion of Russian diplomats

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Berlin, Germany, on February 23, 2022. (Photo MICHELE TANTUSSI / POOL / AFP)

“This action is part of a European approach”, took care to specify the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its press release. While the massacres observed in Boutcha and in the suburbs of kyiv raised a new wave of indignation in the United Nations and in Europe, France and Germany announced in turn the expulsion of several dozen Russian diplomats, while that Lithuania decreed the dismissal of the Russian ambassador.

Germany first announced on Monday April 4 the expulsion of“a high number” of Russian diplomats stationed in Berlin, 40 according to information from Agence France-Presse. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stressed that these employees of the Russian embassy constitute “a threat to those who seek protection with us”. “We will not tolerate it anymore”she added in a short written statement.

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In the afternoon, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement along the same lines, a source close to the ministry foreseeing the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats “whose activities are contrary” to the interests of France.

The reasons given by Lithuania to justify the dismissal of the Russian ambassador are more explicit. “In response to Russia’s military aggression against sovereign Ukraine and the atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in various occupied Ukrainian cities, including the horrific Bucha massacre, the Lithuanian government has decided to reduce diplomatic representation , and the Ambassador of the Russian Federation will have to leave Lithuania”declared to the press the head of the Lithuanian diplomacy, Gabrielius Landsbergis.

Vilnius also announced that it would close the Moscow consulate in Klaipeda, a port city where 20% of the inhabitants are ethnic Russians.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In Boutcha and in the kyiv region, scenes of carnage

Russia promises “documents” on Butcha

Russia, which denies any involvement in the massacres observed in the suburbs of kyiv, has strongly responded to these sanctions. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced a measure “extremely unfriendly” and accused Lithuania of wanting “destroy bilateral relations”. Moscow to announce retaliatory measures ” soon “she added.

“The unfounded reduction of diplomatic personnel in Russian missions in Germany will narrow the space for maintaining dialogue between our countries, which will lead to a further deterioration of Russian-German relations”reacted for its part the Russian embassy in Berlin in a press release published on Telegram.

Read also: Boutcha massacre: on social networks, Moscow’s disinformation operation

“We expressed our categorical rejection of the unilateral accusations by Berlin, which hastened to side with kyiv, without even waiting for an independent investigation into the events in Boutcha”said the Russian embassy.

The Kremlin had reacted strongly Monday morning by rejecting “categorically all charges”, by the voice of its spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov. Russia promised to reveal Monday evening, during a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, “precise documents” aimed at presenting “the true nature of events” which took place in Boucha, according to the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergey Lavrov.

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