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Czech Republic expels 18 Russian Embassy staff over 2014 blast

Czech Republic expels 18 Russian Embassy staff over 2014 blast”

Those were the aliases used by two Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers who British prosecutors charged with the attempted poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the nerve agent Novichok in the English city of Salisbury in 2018.

Police added that the men are known to be carrying various passports, including Russian passports with Petrov and Boshirov's names.

The Czech Republic said on Sunday it had informed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union allies about suspected Russian involvement in a 2014 ammunition depot explosion and the matter would be addressed at an EU foreign ministers' meeting on Monday. Moscow denied involvement in that incident.

The pair then switched to one Moldovan passport in the name of Nicolai Popa, born July 18, 1979 and a Tajikistan passport in the name of Ruslan Tabarov, born October 23, 1975.

Czech Prime Minister Adreij Babis, right, and his foreign minister Jan Mamacek, left, today announced a decision to expel 18 Russian diplomats in relation to the 2014 attack.

Hamacek said 18 Russian embassy staff identified as secret service personnel would be ordered to leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country within 48 hours.

More news: China says to hold talks with Kerry in Shanghai on COP 26

They said the two also visited the capital of Prague and another northeastern Czech region.

Russian politician Vladimir Dzhabarov said the Czech Republic's claims were absurd and that the Russian reaction to the expulsion of its diplomats should be proportionate, the Interfax news agency reported.

Two people died in the blast.

"There is a reasonable suspicion that Russian secret agents of the GRU service were involved in the 2014 explosions of an ammunition dump in the Czech village of Vrbětice", he said. "I will also speak about it at the European Union foreign ministers meeting on Monday", Hamacek tweeted.

The US said it was expelling 10 diplomats from the Russian Embassy in Washington DC on Thursday in response to a cyber-attack as well as other Russian activities.

The reinforcement coincided with a huge build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine, something Moscow called a temporary defensive exercise, and follows an escalation in fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.



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