Poland expels 45 Russian diplomats

Warsaw says they were involved in espionage; Moscow denies allegation, threatens to retaliate

March 24, 2022 04:32 am | Updated 04:32 am IST - Warsaw

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. File

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

Poland on Wednesday said it had expelled 45 Russian diplomats for espionage, an allegation immediately dismissed as baseless by Russia’s Ambassador to Poland.

Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski made the announcement on Twitter.

“Poland has expelled 45 Russian spies pretending to be diplomats,” he wrote. “We are dismantling the Russian special services network in our country.”

‘5 days to leave country’

Russian Ambassador to Poland Sergey Andreyev confirmed the expulsions, telling reporters that the individuals concerned had been given five days to leave Poland.

“There are no grounds for these kinds of accusations,” he said, adding that Russia reserved the right to take retaliatory measures.

Bilateral diplomatic relations remained in place, he said: “The embassies remain, the ambassadors remain.”

“Tolerating this type of illegal activity by Russian services would especially threaten Poland’s security and the security of our NATO and European Union allies,” Lukasz Jasina, spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry, said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Poland’s counter-espionage service ABW announced it had detained a Polish national suspected of espionage for Russia’s secret services.

“The detainee worked in the archives of Warsaw’s registry office,” ABW spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn said on Twitter.

“The activity of the suspect posed a threat to both (the) internal and external security of Poland,” he added.

Russia’s forces in Ukraine appear to be turning to a war of attrition with devastating effect on civilians, after failing to secure hoped-for swift gains when President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion one month ago.

Attacking forces remain 15 km from the capital Kyiv to the north-west and 30 km away to the east, able only to bombard it from a distance.

While U.S. President Joe Biden has said Mr. Putin’s “back is against the wall in Ukraine”, U.S. Defense Department spokesman John Kirby told CNN on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces were now even “going after Russians” who were losing morale as food and fuel run out.

Capturing Kyiv had appeared the Russians’ top target, but despite mobilising a force of up to 2,00,000 troops, Moscow has failed to gain control over it.

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