Russian involvement 2014 blast to be put before EU by Czech, drift widens
June 19, 2021
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Russian involvement 2014 blast to be put before EU by Czech, drift widens

PRAGUE (CZECH REPUBLIC) – Acting Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Jan Hamacek, took to Twitter to announce that the country is informing its NATO and European Union allies about suspected Russian involvement in a 2014 ammunition depot explosion and will discuss the matter at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting.

The central European country expelled 18 Russian embassy staff on Saturday and said that investigations linked Russian intelligence to the explosion, which killed two people.

The expulsions and allegations by Prague have triggered its biggest dispute with Russia since the end of the communist era in 1989.

The Interfax news agency cited Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy head of the Russian upper house’s international affairs committee, on Saturday as saying Prague’s claims were absurd and Russia’s response should be proportionate.

Separately, Czech police said they were searching for two men in connection with serious criminal activity carrying Russian passports in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and that the men were in the country in days leading up to the blast.

Those were the aliases used by two Russian military intelligence 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. Moscow denied involvement in that incident.

The US embassy in Prague said on Twitter that Washington “stands with its steadfast ally, the Czech Republic. We appreciate their significant action to impose costs on Russia for its dangerous actions on Czech soil”.

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