Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia nominate four Russian diplomats as a sign of solidarity with the Czech Republic.
The Prague government dismissed 18 Russian diplomats last week after two Russian spies were allegedly behind a fatal explosion in an ammunition depot in 2014.
The Czech Republic then asked other EU countries to follow suit. Neighboring Slovakia responded to this on Thursday by expelling three Russian diplomats. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis announced the reaction of the three Baltic states on Friday. He spoke of an “unprecedented and dangerous incident”. Lithuania is sending two Russians away and the other two Baltic countries one each.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a telephone conversation with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Thursday that she was in solidarity with Prague but did not announce any measures. The EU and NATO have also expressed solidarity.
Russia has already rejected twenty Czechs and three Slovaks in response, but the diplomatic quarrel is not over yet. Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek demands that the number of staff in the Russian embassy in Prague must be equal to the number of Czechs in the embassy in Moscow by the end of May, which is now about 25. Russia still has about a hundred employees in the diplomatic representation in Prague, 75 of whom would have to go home.
For a week, the Czech police have been looking for two Russians with multiple passports which, in addition to being involved in the explosion, are also suspected of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England. Russia denies having anything to do with the explosion, calling the Czech allegations “provocative and unfriendly”. The State Department has already announced that an “appropriate response” will follow.