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Ukraine: Italy expels 30 Russian diplomats

Italian foreign ministry said the expelled diplomats posed a national security risk.

The Italian government has expelled 30 Russian diplomats due to security concerns, foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said on Tuesday, describing the officials as "personae non grata".

The expulsion of the diplomats was taken "in agreement with other European and Atlantic partners and was necessary for reasons related to our national security, in the context of the current crisis situation resulting from the unjustified aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation", Di Maio told state broadcaster RAI News.

The Russian ambassador to Italy, Sergey Razov, was summoned to the Italian foreign ministry in Rome on Tuesday morning to inform him of the decision, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian news agency TASS that Moscow would give an "appropriate response" to the expulsion of its diplomats from Italy.
The move comes the day after the French and German governments expelled 35 and 40 diplomats from the Russian Federation respectively, reports Corriere della Sera.

In a statement from the Russian diplomatic mission in Italy, Ambassador Razov "explicitly expressed his protest" against Italy's "unjustified decision" which will lead to a "further deterioration of bilateral relations".

The statement, cited by Corriere della Sera, reiterated that the move "will not go unanswered" by Russia and that "no proof has been provided" that the expelled officials posed a danger to Italian security.

Italy is the latest EU country to expel Russian diplomats amid international outrage over killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, near Kyiv, where dozens of bodies have been found in recent days in mass graves or on the streets.

The wave of expulsions of Russian diplomats in the EU has been slammed as a "short-sighted move" by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who told reporters that it would "inevitably lead to retaliatory steps,” reports Al Jazeera.

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