Germany and France have announced the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats between them, in a sign of growing outrage at the images of atrocities allegedly committed by Russian troops in Bucha, the town near Kyiv.
Germany is to expel 40 Russian diplomats from Berlin. The individuals are believed to be agents of Russian intelligence.
Annalena Baerbock, foreign affairs minister, said on Monday the images from Bucha “testify to the incredible brutality of the Russian leadership and of those who follow its propaganda, to a desire to destroy that exceeds all boundaries”.
Baerbock said the government had decided to declare a large number of Russian diplomats as personae non gratae, and that the targeted individuals had “worked every day against our freedom, against the cohesion of our society”.
“Their work is a threat for those who seek protection here,” Baerbock said. “We will no longer tolerate that,” she continued, and that the message had been conveyed to Russia’s ambassador to Berlin on Monday afternoon.
The French foreign ministry said on Monday evening that France had decided to expel “numerous” Russians with diplomatic status “whose activities are contrary to our security interests”, in line with a broader EU move against Moscow’s representatives. It gave no further details of names or numbers.
One French official said about 35 Russians were being expelled.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow would “react to this hostile act by the German political machine,” according to Interfax.
Baerbock said: “We must counter this inhumanity with the strength of our freedom and our humanity,” she said. “But we must also make clear that we will stand up for our freedom and must be prepared to defend it.”
Additional reporting by Max Seddon in Riga