Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Friday announced the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats over the invasion of Ukraine, prompting Moscow to say it would respond in kind. “Latvia expels three Russian Embassy employees in connection with activities that are contrary to their diplomatic status and taking into account ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine," Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted.
“The decision has been coordinated with Lithuania and Estonia," he added. Estonia’s foreign ministry said it had declared three Russian diplomats persona non grata for breaching international conventions on diplomatic ties.
“All three have directly and actively undermined Estonia’s security and spread propaganda justifying Russia’s military action," it said in a statement. Lithuania’s foreign ministry meanwhile announced that it had declared four Russian embassy employees persona non grata, a move made “in solidarity with Ukraine".
“Russia’s military attacks on civilians, civilian objects, hospitals, schools, maternity wards, and cultural objects are war crimes and crimes against humanity," it said in a statement. “Russian special services are actively involved in the planning and execution of the military invasion of Ukraine, threatening not only the security of Ukraine but also that of Lithuania."
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit back on Telegram, saying there would be “a corresponding response to all the unjustified expulsions of Russian diplomats". Earlier Friday, Bulgaria’s foreign ministry announced the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats.
The EU member said they had breached international conventions on diplomatic ties, a formulation often used by the ministry to designate espionage. Sofia had already expelled two Russian diplomats earlier this month for similar reasons.