Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulganek issued an ultimatum to Moscow and said that the Czech diplomats expelled from Russia must be returned to the Russian capital by Thursday noon, otherwise the number of employees of the Russian Embassy in Prague will be reduced on par to the Czech Embassy in Moscow.
"Russia must ensure the return of all expelled employees of the Czech embassy back to Moscow by 12:00 tomorrow. in Moscow," he said after a meeting with the Russian ambassador in Prague.
Moscow responded by saying that giving ultimatums to Russia won't work and that a conversation with the Czech ambassador will continue at the Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday.
"Judging by the statements of some Czech politicians, they are trying to make [Franz] Kafka come true. We offer Prague to leave ultimatums for communication within NATO. With Russia, such a tone is unacceptable...Tomorrow, the conversation with the Czech ambassador will be continued at the Russian Foreign Ministry," the ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russian Ambassador Alexander Zmeyevsky visited the Czech Foreign Ministry, where he was invited in connection with the mutual expulsion of Russian and Czech diplomats.
Eighteen Russian diplomats were expelled from Prague over the weekend over what the country's Prime Minister Andrej Babis said was the move prompted by "a reasonable suspicion" that Russian military intelligence officers had something to do with the October 2014 blasts at an ammunition depot in the town of Vrbetice that killed two Czech nationals.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday said that the claims were groundless and absurd, particularly taking into account that the Czech government earlier blamed the blasts on the companies that owned the warehouses. On the same day, Moscow 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.