Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has formally asked EU member states to consider the expulsion of at least one Russian diplomat, as an expression of solidarity with the Czech Republic over the Vrbětice case and the killing of two Czechs by Russian GRU intelligence. He discussed the matter with EU leaders at an informal meeting in Portugal on Friday evening. Photo: Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at an informal meeting in Portugal. Credit: Vlada.cz.
Czech Rep., May 10 (BD) – About two weeks ago, a diplomatic rift broke out between the Czech Republic and Russia, following Czech intelligence reports that agents of the Russian military intelligence agency (GRU) were reasonably suspected of two explosions at munitions warehouses in Vrbětice in 2014. The Czech Republic expelled 18 staff from the Russian Embassy, and Russia responded by expelling 20 employees from the Czech Embassy in Moscow.
Later, the Czech Republic announced the expulsion of dozens more Russian diplomats from the country by the end of May, moving to “strict parity” in the number of embassy staff.
Organizations and allies have repeatedly expressed their support for the Czech Republic, but only a few states have taken similar steps by expelling Russian diplomats from the country: neighboring Slovakia and the Baltic states (Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia). Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček told Czech Television that he expects similar steps from other countries as well, including Britain and Germany.
Speaking to journalists in Portugal, where he is attending an informal summit of EU leaders, Babiš confirmed this request. The issue was scheduled to be debated with country leaders on Friday evening.
“We must always take it that when one Member State is attacked, it is an attack on everyone. I also asked that they consider the expulsion of at least one diplomat. We will see at the next summit how they will respond,” said Babiš, as reported by Novinky.
Babiš told the media that there had been a long discussion on the topic of Vrbětice and the corresponding reaction of the EU member states, including German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron. However, no written resolution was adopted, as it was only an informal meeting. EU states should respond to Babiš’s request at the next summit of EU leaders, to be held at the end of May.