Wednesday

25th May 2022

EU wave of Russian diplomat expulsions growing

  • Civilian corpses in the streets of Bucha, near Kyiv (Photo: Ukraine foreign ministry)
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Italy, Denmark, Spain, and Sweden have joined the EU's mass-expulsion of Russian diplomats after reports of Russian atrocities in Ukraine.

Italy, one of the most pro-Russian EU countries, threw out 30 Russians on Tuesday (5 April), saying it was needed "for reasons related to our national security".

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  • Russia's EU ambassador Vladimir Chizhov (Photo: friendsofeurope.org)

Spain booted out 25 more due to "the terrible actions carried out in the past days in Ukraine especially in Bucha and the ones reported today from Mariupol", Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Albares said, referring to two Ukrainian towns.

Denmark expelled 15, with foreign minister Jeppe Kofod tying the move to reports of Russian torture and murder of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians. "This is another example of brutality, cruelty and war crimes, which apparently have taken place in Bucha," Kofod said.

Latvia (13 expulsions) and Sweden (3) also joined the wave of defenestrations.

That brought the total number of post-Bucha massacre EU expulsions to 162 after Germany, France, and Lithuania ejected 76 Russian diplomats, including Russia's ambassador in Vilnius, on Monday.

EU countries are also planning a new round of economic sanctions amid emotional appeals by Ukrainian officials.

"Every euro, every cent you [Europe] receive from or send to Russia has blood; it is bloody money," Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said Wednesday after visiting Bucha, which he called a "genocide of Ukrainians".

The UN should create a special court to try Russian war criminals the way it did those of former Yugoslavia, Oleksiy Arestovych, a Ukrainian presidential aide, also said.

Speaking in Vienna Wednesday, Michael Carpenter, a senior US diplomat said the multiplication of eyewitness accounts and forensic evidence of civilian rape, torture, and extra-judicial executions by Russian soldiers coming out of Ukraine "suggest these are not the acts of a rogue soldier or two — they are part of a broader troubling pattern".

"The callousness with which Russia's authorities have treated the news from Bucha is also worth dwelling on briefly," Carpenter, who is the US ambassador to the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), also said.

"As photos of bloodied civilian corpses with hands tied behind their backs emerged on Saturday, Russian [foreign ministry] spokesperson Maria Zakharova tweeted about the injustice of being turned away from a Chanel store," he said.

Zakharova is already on an EU sanctions list.

Chizhov

Meanwhile, the Russian mission to the EU continued circulating lies about the war to its mailing list of Brussels-based journalists even as the Bucha evidence came to light.

In its latest press release, published Monday, it also complained that EUobserver had caused "insult" to its EU ambassador, Vladimir Chizhov, by its choice of vocabulary in an op-ed.

Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Poland expelled 108 Russian diplomats in March on grounds they were guilty of espionage.

But Belgian authorities have let Chizhov stay for now, even though some Western intelligence services see him as the Kremlin's main channel of disinformation and influence in the EU capital.

"Chizhov should be PNG-ed [Persona Non Grata-ed] ASAP," one EU diplomat told EUobserver.

"We regret the reduction of the possibilities of communicating at the diplomatic level in these difficult conditions," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.

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