War in Ukraine: Europe responds to Buka's atrocities by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats Listen to this article

The gruesome images of the atrocities committed in the Ukrainian city of Buka have resulted in a first in Europe: the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats from several capitals amid allegations of espionage and acting against the interests of the countries that host them. Berlin first announced the departure of 40 of them on Monday. “They work against our freedom and our social unity,” Foreign Minister Annalena Barbock said. France, Italy, Denmark and Sweden have made similar decisions in recent hours.

Several European countries have already expelled representatives of Russia in recent days posing as diplomats, accusing them of being spies. Poland did this on the 23rd. “In a consistent and determined manner, we have destroyed the Russian special services network in our country,” declared Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminsky. Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and the Czech Republic made the decision last week citing national security.

Russia on Tuesday promised to respond to a wave of expulsions of its diplomats, according to the Tass agency quoting Kremlin’s foreign spokeswoman Maria Zazarova. The foreign minister, Alexander Grushko, assured that it was “a planned campaign” and warned that its consequences would be felt for a long time.

After learning of images of civilians apparently executed by Russian soldiers, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, will travel to Kyiv this week to meet with the President. Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer announced on Twitter that the meeting would take place ahead of an event in support of Ukraine to be held in the Polish capital on Saturday. The EU is intensifying a new sanctions package against Moscow amid mounting pressure for measures to include some form of energy embargo.

Germany, which has repeatedly expelled Russian diplomats in response to serious actions, such as the killing of a Chechen rebel in broad daylight in central Berlin, is virtually the only country to make an explicit reference to the Buka massacre. Bairbock assured that the images of “incredible brutality” could not go unanswered. “We fear that similar actions have taken place in other cities occupied by Russian troops,” he said.

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Ira Gavriluk, holding a cat, goes to the courtyard of her house in Bucha and finds the bodies of her husband and brother.Photo: Philip Dana

The French executive on Monday announced the expulsion from the country of “several” – some sources point to around thirty people – Russian diplomats whose activities are “contrary to the country’s security interests”. In a statement of only three sentences, Paris assured that the decision is “part of a European initiative” and stressed that it was taken to “guarantee the safety of the French and Europeans”.

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, have both described what happened in Buka as a “war crime” and called for new sanctions against Russia. Macron has explicitly called for sanctions on Russian oil and coal, for which he said, he hopes to reach an agreement with his European partners in the coming days. Berlin is currently adamant on not banning Russian hydrocarbon imports, but pressure is mounting, even from within the executive. Defense Minister Christine Lambert said now is the time to discuss a possible Russian energy embargo.

Diplomats working at the Berlin embassy have five days to leave the country after being classified as a “persona non greta”. “Your work is a threat to those who seek refuge with us. We are not going to tolerate this,” said the German minister, who blamed not only “Russian leaders” for the atrocities, but also “those who follow their propaganda”. On Sunday, a caravan of about 400 cars displaying Russian flags and even the Z symbol in support of the invasion of Ukraine was paraded through the German capital to the surprise and outrage of many passersby. Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrey Melnik, called it a “caravan of shame”.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio announced on Tuesday in Berlin, where he is attending a conference to support Moldova, that his government would expel 30 diplomats from the Russian embassy because of a “risk to national security”. Will give The decision “comes in the context of the current crisis situation as a result of undue aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation.”

“We do not want spying on Danish soil, so they will be expelled immediately,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod announced on Tuesday. Copenhagen considers 15 alleged Russian diplomats a threat to national security. His removal is a “historic” move, Kofod said, but necessary to protect the country’s security. Sweden believes that the work of the three Russian diplomats is “not in accordance with the Vienna Convention,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Tuesday, an oblique reference to the fact that it also considers them spies.

The Danish government has accused Moscow of committing crimes against humanity and, like Germany, explicitly mentioned the massacre of civilians in Bucha. Intelligence officers must leave the country within 14 days. Berlin has given employees with diplomatic passports five days to leave Germany.

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