The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed the accusations against the diplomats in Prague, calling the claims absurd and stressed that Moscow will respond in kind. At the same time, the ministry called the decision a provocation, adding that it is impossible not to see American influence behind the expulsion.
"The Czech authorities made an unprecedented decision to expel 18 staffers of the Russian embassy under an unfounded and false pretext that Russian intelligence agencies had something to do with the 2014 explosion", the statement read. "This [accusation] sounds even more absurd considering that the Czech government earlier blamed the explosions on the companies that owned the warehouses".
The spat between the two nations escalated after Prague accused Russia of involvement in an explosion at an ammunition depot in Vrbetice in 2014, where two Czech nationals were killed.
Czech police also put two Russian nationals, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov on the wanted list, but did not say directly whether they had anything to do with the blast.
According to a statement from the Czech authorities, the two Russian nationals were in the country in October 2014 - first in Prague, and then in the Moravian-Silesian Region and the Zlin Region. Each of them allegedly used at least two passports.