Italy, Denmark and Sweden will deport a total of 48 people, as Moscow promises revenge
Italy, Denmark and Sweden have decided to expel a total of 48 Russian diplomats, and will be the latest EU countries to take action in the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the middle of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
Foreign ministers from the three countries informed the Russian ambassadors of their decision on Tuesday.
Denmark will deport 15 Russian diplomats as part of the move. Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod has informed the Russian ambassador that the people concerned have two weeks to leave the country.
According to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these people worked at the Russian embassy in Copenhagen and used their diplomatic status as a cover to gather intelligence for Moscow.
“This will signal to Moscow that we will not accept Russian intelligence officers spying on Danish territory.” in Kofod.
“They pose a risk to our national security, which we cannot overlook. Together with a number of our closest allies, we are therefore putting our foot down on the espionage that the identified persons are carrying out under the guise of diplomatic status.”
Despite the deportation, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it would like to maintain diplomatic relations with Moscow by using the embassy in Copenhagen as the primary communication channel, so the ambassador and other employees are not fired.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has also informed the ambassador that the country will fire 30 Russian diplomats, citing “security problems”.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde announced that the country has decided to expel three Russian diplomats “whose work in Sweden is not in accordance with the Vienna Convention”, she told reporters.
At the same time, Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Store has said that his government is also considering similar measures, but no decision has yet been made.
The measures come just a day after Germany announced it would deport 40 Russian diplomats, while France said it would deport “about 30”.
By now, more than 200 Russian diplomats working in the United States and Europe have been sent home since Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine began.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has stated that the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats will not go unanswered and that Moscow will take similar action in response.