Vienna revoked the status of four diplomatic staff members, joining other European nations’ expulsion spree
According to the Foreign Ministry, Austria declared four Russian diplomats personae non-gratae. Many countries made similar decisions this week and expelled dozens more Russian diplomats.
The statement from Austria’s foreign ministry stated that three Russian diplomats in Vienna were to be expelled and another one was sent to Salzburg. The move was justified by the Russians’ alleged activities that “have not been in accordance with their diplomatic status.”
Moscow stated that it would respond to Austria’s expulsions “correspondingly”.
European countries had earlier expelled hundreds of Russian diplomats. Some explicitly tied their decisions with Kiev’s allegations that Russian troops were engaged in war crimes in Ukraine. Some others cited national security concerns, while some made general accusations that they had broken diplomatic protocol. Austria was one example.
Days after Russian forces pulled out of some Ukrainian cities, the Ukrainian government said Russia was responsible for genocide. To support its claims, Kiev showed images of mass civilian deaths in areas it had taken control. Some images showed dead civilians with their hands bound, which Ukraine said were executed by withdrawing Russian soldiers.
Moscow dismissed the claims and charged Kiev with fabricating evidence in order to discredit Russia. Before any independent investigation could be conducted, many Western countries took Ukrainian claims as true.
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. French and German protocols were designed to normalize those areas within Ukraine’s state.
Russia demanded Ukraine be declared neutral by the United States and refuse to join NATO. Kiev maintains that Russia’s offensive was not provoked and denies claims that it planned to seize the two republics.
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