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Russia threatens response after four countries expel 20 diplomats

By Rich Klein
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Russia threatens response after four countries expel 20 diplomats
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, seen here in 2018. The Russian foreign ministry said Friday that it will have an "appropriate answer" to the expulsion by four European countries of 20 Russian diplomats. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

March 18 (UPI) -- Four European countries have expelled a total of 20 Russian diplomats in a coordinated move that triggered a threat from the Russian foreign ministry.

Bulgaria gave 10 diplomats 72 hours to leave the country and Lithuania expelled four Russian diplomats. Latvia and Estonia expelled three each.

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"All ungrounded expulsions of Russian diplomats will be met with an appropriate answer," said Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry.

Latvia Minister For Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics tweeted on Friday that the three Russian embassy employees were expelled "in connection with activities that are contrary to their diplomatic status and taking into account ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine."

The expulsion of diplomats between Russia and the west has a long history.

In late February, the United States expelled 12 diplomats from Russia's United Nations mission, citing espionage.

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And, last April, Russia expelled 10 U.S. diplomats in response to President Joe Biden imposing sanctions that were aimed at impacting some three dozen Russian individuals and entities for attempts to interfere in and influence the 2020 presidential elections.

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