Poland, Hungary and Slovakia stand united with Czechia in row with Russia
The prime ministers of the Poland, Hungary and Slovakia said on Monday that they support the Czech Republic's actions after it said it suspected that two Russian spies were also behind a 2014 explosion that killed two people.
"We, the Prime Ministers of Poland, Hungary and Slovakia express full solidarity with our close partner and neighbor Czechia regarding the involvement of the Russian military intelligence operatives in the explosion at the Vrbetice ammunition depot in 2014" - the prime ministers said in a statement published on the Twitter account of the Polish prime minister's office.
"We condemn this yet another deplorable act of aggression and breach of international law committed by Russia on European soil. We denounce the disproportionate measures taken by Russia in response to the entirely justified decision of the Czech Republic to expel 18 Russian intelligence officers from its territory and offer our diplomatic and consular support to Czechia" - the statement reads.
"Together with the Prime Minister of Czechia we strongly condemn illegal and violent actions carried out by the Russian intelligence operatives. We will not allow these activities to divide Europe. Visegrád Group countries are determined to take measures together with fellow Member States of the European Union to reinforce our resilience" - the prime ministers of three V4 countries said.
Czech authorities said on April 17 they were expelling 18 Russian diplomats whom they identified as spies. A day later Moscow expelled 20 Czech diplomats, giving them 24 hours to leave Russia.
Prague accuses Russian intelligence of being behind a deadly blast at an ammunitions depot in 2014. Russia dismisses the accusations as absurd.
The dispute escalated further on April 22 when Prague ordered Russia to remove most of its remaining diplomatic staff from Prague, prompting Moscow to demand a further cut in Czech embassy staff.
The two suspects named by Prague in connection with the 2014 ammunition depot explosion, known under the aliases Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, have been reported to be part of the elite Unit 29155 of Russia's GRU military intelligence service.
Britain charged the pair in absentia with attempted murder after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with the nerve agent Novichok in the English city of Salisbury in 2018. Russia denied involvement in that incident.
Russia accused Poland on Friday of destroying relations between the two countries and confirmed it was kicking out five Polish diplomats in retaliation for the expulsion of three Russians.
Polish ambassador Krzysztof Krajewski was summoned for a tongue-lashing at the foreign ministry in the latest of a series of bitter tirades by Moscow against central and east European nations that were its allies before the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
The foreign ministry issued a statement giving the five Polish diplomats until May 15 to leave the country and condemning Poland's expulsion of Russian diplomats as "absurd".
"This was yet another confirmation that Warsaw is consciously pursuing a course towards further degradation and destruction of our bilateral relations," it said.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters, gov.pl
Źródło zdjęcia głównego: Krystian Maj/KPRM