Russia Calls Baltic Nations, Slovakia 'Openly Hostile' Amid Retaliation, Expulsion of Diplomats

Russia expelled seven diplomats from three Baltic nations and Slovakia on Wednesday in retaliation to the countries' expulsion of Russian embassy workers and called those actions "openly hostile" against Russia.

Russian Foreign Ministry ambassadors ordered three diplomats from Slovakia, two from Lithuania, and one each from Estonia and Latvia to depart Russia in a week, according to the Associated Press. Slovakia and the three Baltic states expelled Russian diplomats last week to show solidarity with the Czech Republic after their expulsion of Russian diplomats.

A statement on the expulsion of Baltic diplomats said that the three countries "continue to pursue an openly hostile course towards our country, hiding behind in this case pseudo-solidarity with the indiscriminate actions of the Czech Republic towards Russia."

Russia's statement said that the Baltic nations' prior decisions to expel Russian diplomats were "provocative" and "unfounded."

In a separate statement that announced the expulsion of Slovakian diplomats, Russia's Foreign Ministry said "the decision of the Slovak authorities to show false solidarity with the Czech Republic in its provocative anti-Russian campaign damages traditionally friendly Russian-Slovak relations and constructive bilateral cooperation."

It added that as a "retaliatory measure," three Slovakian Embassy officials are unwelcome and declared them "persona non grata" after Slovakia's "unfounded declaration" that said Russian diplomats were unwelcome.

The U.S. expelled 10 Russian diplomats earlier this month after issuing sanctions against the country that led to Poland's expulsion of three Russian diplomats to show solidarity with the U.S., according to AP.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Russia Calls Baltic Nations, Slovakia 'Openly Hostile'
A Russian national flag is seen on a diplomatic vehicle parked in front of the Foreign Ministry in Prague, Czech Republic, on April 21, 2021.

Moscow's action continues the diplomatic warfare between Russia and several EU nations that began earlier this month when the Czech Republic expelled scores of Russian diplomats over the alleged involvement of Russian spies in a massive ammunition depot explosion in 2014. Moscow has angrily denied any role in the blast.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all former Soviet republics, broke away from the Soviet Union three decades ago and joined NATO and the European Union in 2004. They are among the Kremlin's harshest critics.

The U.S. ordered 10 Russian diplomats out as part of sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and for involvement in the SolarWinds hack of federal agencies.

Moscow responded quid pro quo to the U.S. move and last week ordered five Polish diplomats to leave.