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Poland is expelling 45 Russian diplomats, an official said


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Cars leave through the gate of the Russian embassy building in Warsaw, Poland, March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

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WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it would expel 45 Russian diplomats suspected of working for Russian intelligence.

Russia said the accusations were baseless.

Relations between Russia and the Central European countries that were part of its sphere of influence have always been fraught with danger, but the invasion of Ukraine significantly increased fear and suspicion about Moscow’s intentions.

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“In all, 45 people of different diplomatic statuses… have been ordered to leave the territory of the Republic of Poland within 5 days,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lukas Jasina told a press conference.

He added that someone had been given 48 hours to leave.

“Russia is our neighbor, and it will not disappear from the map of Europe, but the aggression against Ukraine proves that it is an unfriendly country, even hostile to Poland.”

He said the 45 expelled diplomats represented about half of the embassy’s current staff.

Earlier, spokesman for the Special Services Stanislaw Zarin told reporters that the Polish Internal Security Agency had identified 45 people as working for Russian intelligence.

The Russian ambassador in Warsaw was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After that, he said, there is no basis for the accusations leveled against the officials.

“They will have to go. This is a sovereign decision on the Polish side and they are entitled to their own decision,” Ambassador Sergei Andreev told reporters outside the ministry. Read more

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Andreev added that Russia also has the right to take further steps without going into details about what those steps are.

Poland’s decision to expel diplomats follows similar decisions in the Baltic states and Bulgaria. Read more

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(Reporting by Anna Ludarczak-Simczuk, Joanna Plosinska, Alija Ptak, Paul Florkevich, Carol Baduhal, Alan Sharlish; Editing by Toby Chopra, William McLean and Angus Maxwan

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