Russia will expel diplomats from Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. This is a response to a similar step taken by these countries following the probable sabotage by Russian agents that caused the explosion of an ammunition warehouse in the Czech village of Vrbětice in 2014.
As a result, three Slovak diplomats will leave the Slovak Embassy in Moscow, the ČTK newswire reported.
They need to leave Russia by May 5.
This step comes nearly a week after PM Eduard Heger announced together with Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok that three Russian diplomats have to leave the Russian Embassy in Bratislava.
“Slovakia cannot tolerate if the activities of representatives of foreign diplomatic missions do not respect agreed principles,” Heger told the press on April 22. “Ensuring the security of citizens is one of the biggest tasks of the state.”
The expulsion is a reciprocal step
Korčok took the expulsion of three Slovak diplomats into account. He considers it a reciprocal step to Slovakia’s earlier decision to expel three Russian diplomats.
The members of Slovak diplomatic missions follow the international norms, he stressed. At the same time, Korčok said he would like the relations with Russia to be based on mutual respect and cooperation.
“Of course, it will impact the work of our embassy as we will miss the three people who need to leave the Russian Federation, but I believe we will manage the situation,” Korčok said, as quoted by the TASR newswire, drawing comparisons to last August, when the Slovak and Russian sides decided on the mutual expulsion of their diplomats.
Czech minister expresses gratitude
Korčok met with his Czech counterpart Jakub Kulhánek on April 28. The two commented on the current developments of the crisis that followed the recent revelations connected to the 2014 explosion in Vrbětice.
Korčok said that Slovakia was on the right side of the conflict and that it made a decision based on information from both the Slovak and Czech intelligence services.
Kulhánek considers Slovakia’s reaction very complex. He also appreciated the support of Slovakia in negotiations with the EU and NATO, as reported by TASR.