Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek on Saturday announced the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats on suspicion of being officers of Russia's special services. They were obliged to leave the country within 48 hours starting from Monday.
The U.S. stands with the Czech Republic in its firm response against Russia’s subversive actions on Czech soil. We must act firmly in response to Russian actions that compromise the territorial integrity, energy security, or critical infrastructure of our allies and partners.— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) April 18, 2021
Prime Minister Andrej Babis explained that the move was prompted by "a reasonable suspicion" that Russian military intelligence officers had something to do with the October 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot in the town of Vrbetice.
However, a spokesperson for the Czech police told Sputnik that the police could not confirm the link between putting Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov on wanted list and an explosion at an ammunition depot in Vrbetice in 2014, where two Czech nationals were killed.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday announced its decision to expel 20 Czech diplomats in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Prague and gave the Czech diplomatic staff time until the end of Monday to leave Russia.
The expulsion from Prague was announced soon after the United States ordered 10 Russian diplomats out over their alleged malign activities. Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called Prague’s move "absolutely grotesque." She said the Czech government had "demonstrated lack of an independent political line in its foreign affairs and when shaping bilateral relations with our country."