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Iran Press TV

Moscow says will retaliate hard against expulsion of Russian diplomats from Czech Republic

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 18 April 2021 6:03 PM

Moscow says it will retaliate hard against expulsion of Russian diplomats in the Czech Republic, strongly rejecting accusations that Russian intelligence services were behind deadly blasts in the country in 2014.

Prague said Saturday that it would expel 18 Russian diplomats identified by local intelligence as alleged secret agents of the Russian SVR and GRU services that were suspected of involvement in arms depot explosions in the Czech Republic seven years ago.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said in a joint press conference that the agents working for the Russian intelligence services were allegedly involved in several blasts that shook the Vrbetice ammunition depot, 330km southeast of Prague, on October 16, 2014.

The explosions killed two employees of a private company that was renting the depot from a state military organization.

On Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the allegations as unfounded and absurd and it vowed to retaliate Prague's expulsion of Russian embassy staff.

"We will take retaliatory measures that will force the authors of this provocation to fully understand their responsibility for destroying the foundation of normal ties between our countries," the ministry statement said.

"This hostile move was the continuation of a series of anti-Russian actions undertaken by the Czech Republic in recent years. It's hard not to see the American trace (here)," it said, accusing Prague of "striving to please the United States against the backdrop of recent US sanctions against Russia," the Russian Foreign Ministry added.

Later on Saturday and in response to the joint statement by Czech premier and top diplomat, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said her country would answer the Czech move.

"Prague is well aware of what will follow such tricks," Zakharova said.

Prague said that it had already informed NATO and European Union (EU) allies regarding purported Russian involvement in the blasts and that the matter would be addressed at an EU foreign ministers' meeting on Monday.

The blasts and allegations by Prague have created its biggest dispute with Moscow since the 1989 end of Communist rule, when Czech was under Moscow's domination for decades.

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