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Dozens of Russian diplomats expelled

Belgium, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands are together to expel more than 40 Russian diplomats, having accused them of espionage.

Belgium is to send home 21 Russian nationals who worked at Moscow’s embassy in Brussels and its consulate in Antwerp. Officials allege that, while they had all been accredited as diplomats, they were in fact engaged in spying and influence operations, according to a spokesperson.

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The Dutch Foreign Ministry has announced that it is removing 17 supposed Russian intelligence agents with diplomatic accreditation, acting on information from its security services. It added that the Netherlands was prepared for any retaliatory measures that Moscow might take.

READ MORE: Diplomatic war between EU and Russia escalates

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs has expelled four senior officials who had worked at the Russian Embassy, saying their actions had “not been in accordance with international standards of diplomatic behavior.” It added that the government was nevertheless of the view that diplomatic channels between Dublin and Moscow should remain open.

Later on Tuesday, the Czech Republic followed suit, its Foreign Ministry announcing on Twitter the expulsion of a member of the diplomatic staff at Russia’s embassy in Prague. It said he had been given 72 hours’ notice to leave, and that Czechia and its European Union allies were “reducing the Russian intelligence presence in the EU.”

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