(RepublicanInformer.com)- The Czech Republic struck against Russia first, but Russia’s response was much stronger than they had expected.
On Saturday, Prague expelled 18 Russian diplomats because they believed that intelligence officers from the country were involved in explosions that occurred in both October and December of 2014.
Russia’s responded by evicting 20 Czech embassy employees. Moscow has obviously denied that any agents from its country were involved in the 2014 blasts. Those incidents resulted in the death of two people.
Russia has since said that the move by the Czechs should be seen as a provocation.
Now, Jan Hamacek, the acting foreign minister for the Czech Republic, said he has asked other foreign ministers in the European Union for “an expression of solidarity.” In a news conference that was televised, he said:
“The reaction (by Russia) is stronger than we had expected. It is more diplomats than the number of intelligence officers we expelled. I will meet the prime minister and discuss if and when the Czech side may need to take some further steps.”
Opposition forces said that the 2014 attacks were state terrorism, a claim that Andrej Babis, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, denied. However, he did say it was an “unacceptable operation” by the Russians. At a news conference of his own, Babis said:
“Russia was not attacking the Czech Republic. The agents attacked — we can call it a terrorist act by these agents — the goods of a Bulgarian arms trader, who was probably selling these arms to parties fighting Russia.
“The ammunition was supposed to explode en route. Of course, it is unacceptable that GRU agents were undertaking the operation here — which they bungled.”
Three Russians were eventually charged in 2020 by Bulgarian prosecutors for the attempted murder of the trader, later confirmed to be Emilian Gebrev. That man also survived a poison attempt on him in 2015.
Still, on Monday, a company run by Gebrev, EMCO, denied that it planned or made a shipment from the warehouse in Czech Republic at all in the months before the explosion. He also said they didn’t’ make any shipment from that warehouse for a full year after the attacks.
Previously, Prague said the same agents who were involved in the warehouse blast also were involved in the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy. Agents from the GRU military intelligence for Russia have been alleged to have poised Skripal in Britain in 2018. Moscow has denied any involvement in that situation.
For its part, Russia has said that Prague hasn’t disclosed all the details of the investigation it has conducted to Moscow. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russia Foreign Ministry, said this is a significant blow to relations between the two countries. She continued:
“This is proof that this whole story is a fabricated, dirty, disgusting fake.”
The Kremlin said the actions by the Czech Republic are “provocative and unfriendly.”
Tensions are continuing to worsen in the region that is starting to concern the United States and other Western countries.