France, Germany to expel 'substantial number' of Russian diplomats
- France will deport 'many Russian personnel with diplomatic status,' foreign ministry said in a statement
- The decision is part of European-level efforts, and their 'first responsibility is always to ensure the safety of French people and Europeans'
- Germany is also dismissing a 'substantial number' of Russian embassy staff
France will deport "many Russian personnel with diplomatic status," according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs on Monday.
The decision pertains to Russian diplomatic personnel "assigned to France whose activities are contrary to our security interests," according to the statement.
According to the ministry statement, the decision is part of European-level efforts, and their “first responsibility is always to ensure the safety of French people and Europeans."
Earlier in the day, Germany voted to remove "a substantial number" of Russian diplomats, seeing their activities as a "threat" to refugees in the nation.
Germany is also dismissing a "substantial number" of Russian embassy staff, calling them "persona non grata," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement on Monday.
Russian authorities "have been working against our freedom and against cohesion of our society here in Germany every day," according to Baerbock.
“Their work is a threat to those seeking shelter with us. We will not continue to tolerate this. This is what we told the Russian ambassador today,” she added.
The minister also stated that the photographs from the Ukrainian town of Bucha "testify the incredible brutality of the Russian leadership and those following their propaganda, of a will to (the) destruction that is crossing all borders."
“We have to fear similar pictures (will emerge) from many other places occupied by the Russian forces,” she continued.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner rejected a European Union embargo on Russian gas imports on Monday, as the number of civilian casualties in Ukraine increases pressure on the EU to penalise Russia's energy sector.
"We are dealing with a criminal war," Lindner stated prior to meeting with his EU colleagues in Brussels. "It is clear we must end as quickly as possible all economic ties to Russia. We must plan tough sanctions, but gas cannot be substituted in the short term. We would inflict more damage on ourselves than on them."
Lindner proposed that, rather than imposing a blanket ban on all Russian energy imports, the EU examine each of the fossil fuels independently, as alternative suppliers for each of the fossil fuels may be identified at differing rates.