Moscow expels Czech diplomats as spat escalates
Moscow is reported to have expelled two Czech diplomats in retaliation for the expulsion of two officials at the Russian embassy in Prague on suspicion of spying. The decision to expel them was based on information received from the Czech intelligence services, the news website novinky.cz reported. TV Nova said the two Russian diplomats had been expelled on Monday after attempting to establish contact with staff at the Czech defence ministry; it reported that they were particularly interested in the Czech army and US plans to build a radar base in central Bohemia.
On Tuesday Interfax reported that Russia had retaliated in kind and ordered two diplomats from the Czech embassy in Moscow to leave. The news agency quoted a Russian official as saying Prague’s unfriendly step had not gone unanswered.
Relations between the Czech Republic and Russia cooled over the former’s plans to host a US radar base that would be part of a global anti-missile defence system and Prague’s support for Georgia during last August’s war.