Belgium, others expel Russian diplomats over alleged espionage activities – POLITICO

Belgium has decided to expel 21 Russian diplomats for their involvement in espionage and activities that threaten the country’s security, Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès announced on Tuesday.

Speaking to the Belgian parliament, Wilmès said officials had 15 days to leave the country.

Belgian state security and intelligence have investigated envoys suspected of violating the Vienna Convention on International Relations and compiled the list, said Wouter Poels, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, adding that the names were given to the Russian ambassador to Belgium He was called to the Ministry on Tuesday afternoon. The list will not be published.

Wilmès noted that this decision “was not a sanction” and that “diplomatic channels remain open with Russia; the Russian embassy can continue working.”

in one Statement, The Russian embassy in Belgium said it “rejected these allegations as completely unfounded and stressed that this decision deals a serious blow to Russian-Belgian relations”.

The Belgian minister said the decision to expel the diplomats was taken in coordination with like-minded countries: the Netherlands decided on Tuesday to expel 17 diplomats and Ireland did the same with four diplomats earlier in the same day.

in the a statement Commenting on the expulsions from Dublin, Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said their “activities did not meet international standards of diplomatic conduct”.

The Russian Embassy in Ireland called the expulsion “arbitrarily and without cause” and predicted that the move “won’t go unanswered”.

Ireland has an ambassador and five staff members in Moscow. Belgium, others expel Russian diplomats over alleged espionage activities - POLITICO

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