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Russia expels 34 French diplomats, France condemns the expulsion
Moscow is the capital and largest city of Russia. The city stands on the Moskva River in Central Russia, with a population estimated at 12.4 million residents within the city limits, over 17 million residents in the urban area, and over 20 million residents in the metropolitan area - Photo: Pixabay

Moscow said Wednesday (May 18) it was expelling 34 "employees of French diplomatic missions" in a tit-for-tat move following the expulsion of Russian diplomats from France as part of joint European action over Russia's campaign in Ukraine.

Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement: "Thirty four employees of French diplomatic missions in Russia have been declared persona non grata." It added that they have two weeks to leave the country

France, on its part, “strongly condemned” the expulsion of 34 of its diplomats by Russia, the foreign ministry said Wednesday, a tit-for-tat move by Moscow after Paris ordered some Russian staff to leave.

Effil tower in France - Shutterstock

Saying the step had “no legitimate basis,” the ministry said in a statement that “the work of the diplomats and staff at (France’s) embassy in Russia... takes place fully within the framework of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations” — whereas Paris expelled the Russian staff in April on suspicion of being spies.

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It should be noted that, Russia will also expel 24 Italian diplomats in a retaliatory move, news agency RIA cited the foreign ministry as saying on Wednesday — the latest in a series of tit-for-tat responses to European countries that have ordered out Russian staff.

Italy has slammed Russia’s expulsion of the diplomats as a ‘hostile act’.

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