Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania will expel several Russian diplomats and embassy employees in solidarity with Prague, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis announced during a press conference on Friday.
“My Latvian and Estonian colleagues have each expelled one [embassy] employee involved in espionage activities,” Landsbergis said.
Lithuania will expel two Russian diplomats, he said without disclosing names. “They both had a diplomatic rank” and were involved in espionage, added Landsbergis.
“Today, April 23, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry summoned the representative of the Russian Federation in Lithuania, he was handed a note declaring two employees of the Russian Federation [embassy] non-desirable persons due to activities incompatible with their diplomatic status, they were ordered to leave Lithuania within seven days,” the minister said.
Landsbergis also said he had discussed the expulsion of Russian diplomats with other EU and NATO ministers. “Other states are starting discussions on that and they hope they will be able to join the Baltic states,” Landsbergis said.
The minister said it was likely that Moscow would retaliate and expel several Lithuanian Embassy staff members in response to Lithuania’s move.
“If Russia made a tougher response, […] decided to expel a disproportionally high number of people, Lithuania reserves the right to express another protest,” the Lithuanian foreign minister said.
Last week, the Czech Republic ordered 18 Russian diplomats, identified as secret agents, to leave the country and asked its partners to expel identified members of Russian intelligence services in an act of solidarity.
Citing an intelligence report, the Czech government has said that Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, orchestrated two explosions in 2014, one of which killed two people and caused extensive material damage.
Moscow denied the allegations and responded in kind by expelling 20 Czech diplomatic staff. The Czech government on Thursday ordered Russia to remove most of its diplomatic staff from Prague.
Slovakia has also expelled three Russian diplomats.