Czech Republic expels 18 Russian embassy staff

Joanna Estrada
April 18, 2021

"The Czech Republic is a sovereign state and must respond accordingly to these unprecedented findings", Babiš said.

Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, who is also interim foreign minister, said on Twitter Sunday that he had instructed the country's European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ambassadors to inform allies, adding that he would discuss the case on Monday at a meeting of the EU's foreign ministers.

At the same time, police issued a request for assistance in searching for two individuals who it said were in the country between 11 October and 16 October 2014, first in Prague and then the area where the arms depot is located.

Another explosion of 13 tons of ammunition occurred in the depot on December 3 of that same year.

Hundreds had to be evacuated from nearby villages after those explosions. "We appreciate their significant action to impose costs on Russian Federation for its risky actions on Czech soil".

Warsaw also expressed solidarity with the U.S., which earlier that day had announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Washington said was the Kremlin's United States election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.

He added that President Milos Zeman, who is known for his pro-Russian views, has been informed about the development and has "expressed absolute support for us".

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said her country would answer the Czech move.

Hamacek, who is the interior minister and also an interim foreign minister after his predecessor was sacked earlier this week, said he was sorry the incident would "fundamentally damage Czech-Russian relations".

These are the same names used by two Russian intelligence officers the United Kingdom says carried out the poisoning in Salisbury, Wiltshire in 2018.

The statement from the Czech police does not mention the attack against the Skripals.

According to Czech police, the two men used two Russian passports as well as a Moldovan and Tajikistan passport while in the Czech Republic.

The names matched those used by the two suspects in the attempted poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in the English city of Salisbury in 2018. Two men died as a result.

They said the two also visited the capital of Prague and another northeastern Czech region.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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