Russia expels two Dutch diplomats in tit-for-tat move

Russia will expel two Dutch diplomats in retaliation for a similar measure taken by the Netherlands in December.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that they had summoned Dutch diplomat Joost Reintjes on Monday.

The move comes after two diplomats from the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands were expelled early last month, on accusations of spying “incompatible with their diplomatic status”.

The Dutch intelligence service (AIVD) said the decision was taken after they had uncovered an espionage network in the Netherlands targeting the high-tech industry.

Moscow has described the allegations as “groundless” and accused the Netherlands of deliberately undermining international relations.

“Once again, the Dutch authorities have resorted to their favourite method of making unfounded and defamatory accusations,” the Foreign Ministry statement read.

“This unfriendly and provocative step, as well as a new round of anti-Russian hysteria, organised by The Hague with the help of pro-government media, demonstrated the lack of common sense and understanding in the Dutch power circles.”

The two Dutch diplomats have two weeks to leave Russia, the Ministry added.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a statement that the diplomats “did their work for the Netherlands in a professional and committed manner”.

“They have now completely unjustly and through no fault of their own been expelled by Russia,” Blok added.

Tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats have risen in recent months across Europe against a backdrop of growing tensions between Russia and Western nations.

Russia-Dutch relations have been strained over the investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board.

Dutch prosecutors have said the airliner was shot down with a missile provided by Russia, allegations denied by Moscow.

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