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MEP, ambassador: Russian diplomats’ expulsion minimum step

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Prague, March 25 (CTK) – The expulsion of some Russian diplomats that Prague is considering over Moscow’s allegations about a Czech origin of the poison used against a former spy in Britain would be the minimum step, MEP Pavel Telicka and Czech Ambassador to the USA Hynek Kmonicek agreed on Czech TV on Sunday.

Kmonicek mentioned up to two Russian diplomats, while European Parliament (EP) Vice President Telicka is of the view that more of them should be expelled, they said in the Questions of Vaclav Moravec TV discussion programme.

Russian diplomacy said last week that the Novichok nerve agent used in an attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, south England, earlier in March may come from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Britain or Sweden.

London accuses Moscow of the attack, which Moscow denies. Both countries have expelled dozens of their diplomats reciprocally.

If Britain asked for solidarity, a moderate Czech reaction would be appropriate, Kmonicek said. He called the expulsion of diplomats a standard diplomatic tool to express disagreement.

However, he also pointed to relatively few pieces of information available on the Skripal case.

“I would not base a united action on this,” he said in reaction to a report that some 20 EU countries would expel Russian diplomats.

The countries should rather react to the fact that “Russian defectors” are dying in Britain only, and not in the United States and Israel where they are also heading, he said. He mentioned 14 investigated cases.

Russia has probably assessed Britain as a weak security point and the EU must defend itself against this, Kmonicek added.

The Czech Republic should not expel more than one or two Russian diplomats, Kmonicek said, adding that Russia would react in the same way.

Telicka said Prague should be more ambitious. “If we were speaking about one, two, three (diplomats), they would be rather smiling in Moscow,” he added.

Russia would replace the expelled diplomats by others in a few days, he added.

PM Andrej Babis is to debate a possible expulsion of Russian diplomats with Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky (both ANO) on Monday. Babis previously said if the Czech Republic took this steps, it would apply to some individuals.

The CNN U.S. TV reported that some 20 EU member states might expel Russian diplomats on Monday.

Telicka said he considered it important that a majority of the EU countries would decide so.

Telicka also called the Russian statement that the nerve agent Novichok might come from the Czech Republic arrogant.

This statement was a gross Russian diplomatic mistake, Kmonicek pointed out.

Former chief of staff Jiri Sedivy said he was absolutely convinced that no such substances were being developed or produced in the territory of the Czech Republic.

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