Amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, and the Czech Republic on Tuesday have expelled 43 Russian diplomats, as per the reports. The move came not so long after Russia and Ukraine’s fresh round of talks in Istanbul earlier today. Belgium has expelled 21, while the Netherlands has removed 17 Russian diplomats.
Belgium has removed the diplomats for espionage or unlawful influence-peddling activities. The diplomats were given two weeks to leave the country, foreign affairs spokeswoman Elke Pattyn said.
Alongside, the Netherlands termed the presence of Russian diplomats in the country, a “threat to national security.” The foreign ministry said it had made a decision on national security grounds. It said that the Russian ambassador was summoned and told the officers, who were accredited as diplomats, were to be removed from the nation.
Notably, not so long ago, Russia had expelled several American diplomats from the US Embassy in Moscow and had declared them “persona non grata,” a State Department spokesperson had said. The development had come days after the US ousted Russian staff at the United Nations.
On the peace talks front, Russia and Ukraine have still not reached a common ground. Although, after today’s talks in Turkey, Turkey’s foreign minister said that the Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have reached “a consensus and common understanding” on some issues.
One of the Ukrainian negotiators even said that a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin is possible soon.