By Associated Press - Monday, January 18, 2021

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday announced the expulsion of two Dutch diplomats in a quid pro quo move.

In December, the Netherlands ordered two Russian diplomats out after the country’s intelligence agency accused them of gathering intelligence information on semiconductors, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it summoned a Dutch envoy Monday to protest the “unfriendly and provocative” Dutch action, adding that the accusations against the Russian diplomats were “slanderous and unfounded.” It said that two Dutch diplomats were ordered to leave Moscow in two weeks “on the principle of reciprocity.”

Russia-Dutch relations have been strained over the investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over conflict-ravaged eastern Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board. Dutch prosecutors have said the airliner was shot down with a missile provided by Russia, the allegations Moscow has denied.

In 2018, the Dutch government also accused Russia’s military intelligence unit of attempted cybercrimes targeting the international chemical weapons watchdog and the investigation into the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane.

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