Russia moved to expel dozens of European diplomats Wednesday in a retaliatory move amid the West’s efforts to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it is kicking out 34 French diplomats after France ejected 35 Russian diplomats in April, according to France 24.
France also identified six Russian agents posing as diplomats last month and labeled them “persona non grata.”
Also Wednesday, Russia told 27 Spanish diplomats they would have to leave within a week and said it planned to expel 24 Italian diplomats.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the expulsions amounted to a “hostile act.”
“This absolutely must not lead to an interruption of diplomatic channels because it is through those channels that, if we succeed, peace will be achieved and that is certainly what we want,” he said.
European capitals and Moscow have been engaged in a tit-for-tat since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
The West is imposing crippling economic sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s country and, this week, Sweden and Finland applied to join the NATO military alliance because of Russia’s aggression.