Russian Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia
Photo: RAIGO PAJULA / AFP
The dispute between the Czech Republic and Russia over an ammunition depot allegedly blown up by Russian secret service agents is spreading across more and more Eastern European countries.
The three Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania announced that they will also expel Russian diplomats out of solidarity with Prague.
A total of four Russian diplomats have to leave these countries - two Lithuania and one each from Estonia and Latvia.
The Czech Republic accuses Russia of being involved in the 2014 explosion of an ammunition dump in Vrbětice in the east of the country.
The Czech government has already expelled 18 Russian diplomats for this reason, and dozen more are to follow.
In return, Russia had expelled 20 Czech diplomats from Moscow.
The decision to expel the Russian diplomats shows "solidarity with our ally" after an "unprecedented and dangerous" incident in the Czech Republic, declared the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.
The Lithuanian mission in Moscow is ready to assist the Czech embassy in carrying out its tasks.
The Estonian Foreign Ministry said the explosion in the Czech Republic shows that Russia is violating "international law."
It is »unacceptable« that Moscow »undermines European law and stability«.
Previously, NATO had already promised its support to the Czech Republic, and Germany also directly assured the Czech embassy in Moscow of its solidarity.
Czech ex-president criticizes government
Former Czech President Václav Klaus assesses the incident very differently.
"The fact that we bark at one of the world powers is something I'm ashamed of," the 79-year-old told the newspaper "Blesk".
Issuing ultimatums just because you believe that the EU and NATO are behind you is "not an expression of a self-confident foreign policy."
The Czech Republic had previously given Russia until Thursday noon to allow all Czech diplomats who had been expelled a few days ago to return to the Moscow embassy.
Russia did not react to this.
Klaus spoke of an "unbelievable chaos that reigns here".
Klaus accused Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of using the affair for the election campaign.
"It is simply no coincidence that this is now emerging," said the neoliberal politician.
A new House of Representatives will be elected at the beginning of October.
fek / AFP / Reuters