Czechs expel 18 Russians over huge depot explosion in 2014

James Marshall
April 18, 2021

The suspects of the 2018 novichok nerve agent poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England, have been linked to a 2014 blast in the Czech Republic that killed two people.

Czech police have issued an appeal for information about two men using the identities Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov who were in the country between October 11 and October 16 in 2014.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš late Saturday said the government had "clear evidence" that officers from "unit 29155 of the Russian military intelligence service GRU" had been involved in blowing up the ammunition depots at the Vrbětice complex. Moscow denied involvement in that incident.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek on Sunday announced plans to discuss the 2014 explosion of an ammunitions depot in Vrbetice during a Monday meeting of European Union foreign ministers.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek, who is also serving as the country's foreign minister, said the 18 Russian embassy staffers were clearly identified as spies from the Russian intelligence services known as GRU and SVR and were ordered to leave the country within 48 hours.

The crisis has already had a wider impact of Czech-Russian relations.

"The United States stands with its steadfast ally, the Czech Republic", Jennifer Bachus, chargé d'affaires at the US embassy in Prague, said.

Britain expelled dozens of Russian diplomats after Russian agents used a Soviet-era nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter who were living in the English city of Salisbury.

We are as determined and committed as ever to bring those responsible for the attack in Salisbury to justice, and commend the actions of the Czech authorities to do the same.

Warsaw also expressed solidarity with the USA, 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.

Last month, US President Joe Biden said he thought his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was a "killer" and Moscow recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article