nations Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland on Tuesday announced the
removal of Russian diplomats due to alleged spying.

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Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes on Tuesday said her country decided to expel 21
diplomats from the Russian embassy in Brussels and consulate in Antwerp. The
diplomats have been given two weeks of ultimatum to leave the country.

also said that the decision was taken in coordination with the neighbouring
Netherlands, whose foreign ministry expelled 17 Russian diplomats for their
“secretly active” operations as intelligence officers.

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meanwhile, told four Russian officials to leave Dublin for engaging in
activities “not… in accordance with international standards of
diplomatic behaviour” — code for spying.

EU countries were bracing for Russia to retaliate by ordering out their own

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expulsions announced Tuesday followed the Western sanctions on Russia for the
war in Ukraine. Already several rounds of sanctions engineered mainly by the EU
and the US have severely affected Russia’s economy.

now considers all EU countries, along with the United States, Japan, Britain
and Australia, “hostile” countries.

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the wake of Russia’s invasion, the United States in early March expelled 12
Russian diplomats based in New York.

retaliated last week by handing the US a list of American diplomats declared
“persona non grata.”

an EU country neighbouring Ukraine, last week expelled 45 Russian diplomats
over alleged espionage, prompting Moscow to accuse Warsaw of embarking on
“a dangerous escalation.”

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was left virtually isolated in the United Nations’ General Assembly on March 2
when an overwhelming majority of countries — 141 in total — voted to adopt a
non-binding resolution demanding a halt to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

five countries voted against the resolution: Russia, Syria, North Korea,
Belarus and Eritrea. Another 35 abstained, including China.

days later, on March 4, the UN Human Rights Council voted to trigger an
investigation into violations committed in the war in Ukraine. Thirty-two of
the council’s 47 members voted in favour, with just Russia and Eritrea voting

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weeks ago, Russia announced it was quitting another international rights forum,
the Council of Europe — just before the pan-European body based in Strasbourg
said it was kicking Russia out.