Relations between Russia and the West are quickly deteriorating as multiple countries have expelled Moscow’s diplomats in recent weeks.
Bulgaria became the latest nation to expel a Russian official Thursday in solidarity with the Czech Republic, which recently linked Russia to a 2014 explosion at a weapons warehouse. The Czech government removed around 60 Russian diplomats from the capital of Prague on April 22, marking the biggest expulsion of Russian officials from a single country since former President Ronald Reagan removed 80 Soviet emissaries in 1986. (RELATED: ‘Mass Anti-Russian Psychosis’: Russia Turfs Blame For Rising International Tensions)
The ongoing back-and-forth between Moscow and Prague was triggered by Czech accusations that Russia was responsible for the 2014 explosion, which killed two people. The Bulgarian move was the result of a related probe tying Russian personnel to the poisoning of three arms dealers in the country in 2015, according to Bloomberg. Prosecutors said the purpose of the crimes was to prevent the export of weapons to Georgia and Ukraine, where Moscow supports separatist movements.
#Slovakia has always stood by #Czechia. The decision to expel 3 members of #Russia’s embassy in Bratislava reflects the support for our closest neighbour & ally and our resolute opposition to subversive activities of foreign services that threaten to undermine our security.
— Zuzana Čaputová (@ZuzanaCaputova) April 22, 2021
Romania expelled one Russian diplomat Monday as well. Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Slovakia have all recently ejected Russian officials too after a call for support from the Czechs to their NATO and European allies. (RELATED: White House And Kremlin Are Working On Logistics For A Biden-Putin Summit This Summer In Europe)
Earlier in April, President Joe Biden authorized sweeping new sanctions against Russia for its role in the SolarWinds hack. Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by expelling multiple American diplomats from his country, which prompted the U.S. to recall its ambassador for consultation. Putin recently gave his annual address to the Russian people, in which he warned the West against crossing various “red lines” set out by his government.