Denmark, Sweden and Italy to expel Russian diplomats after war crimes allegations

French prosecutors opened three probes Tuesday into potential war crimes committed by Russian soldiers against French nationals in Ukraine — as at least six European countries joined other European nations in expelling Russian diplomats.

The moves came as pressure has increased on European governments to respond to allegations that Russian soldiers committed war crimes in Bucha, a suburb northwest of Kyiv. Ukrainian authorities and independent journalists have reported finding mass graves and streets lined with dead civilians in Bucha after Russian troops began to withdraw from the area.

Speaking by video at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded that Russian leaders and soldiers be brought before a special tribunal to be tried “immediately” over the atrocities committed in Bucha.

“They killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn their bodies,” Zelensky said. “This undermines the whole architecture of global security. They are destroying everything.”

Russia, which has denied killing civilians in Ukraine and claimed that the images out of Bucha are fake, criticized the expulsions and vowed to retaliate.

Which countries have expelled Russian diplomats?

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 100 Russian diplomats in nearly a dozen countries have been asked to leave their postings — Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Italy and Denmark were the latest to announce expulsions Tuesday. In recent years, Russian diplomats have also been expelled from several Western nations in response to the Kremlin’s actions, including hacking related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election and after Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal was targeted with a nerve agent in England.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said his country would expel 13 Russian diplomats and staff and shut two Russian consulates. Estonia said it notified Russia’s ambassador that it would shut two Russian consular outposts and expel 14 diplomats and consular staff.

Also Tuesday, E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he had decided “to designate persona non grata a number of officials of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the EU for engaging in activities contrary to their diplomatic status.” The E.U. declared 19 members of the mission persona non-grata.

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said that about 25 Russian diplomats and embassy staff “who represent a threat to the interests and security of our country” would be expelled from Madrid.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said her country had “decided to deport three Russian diplomats whose work in Sweden is not in accordance with the Vienna Convention.”

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Italy would expel 30 Russian diplomats, citing national security concerns.

And Denmark’s Foreign Ministry said 15 Russian diplomats it accused of spying would have 14 days to leave the country. Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said the move sent “a clear signal to Moscow” that Denmark would not accept “Russian intelligence officers spying on Danish soil.”

Russia promised to retaliate against Italy and Denmark, state-backed news outlets RIA Novosti and Tass said, citing Russian officials. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the expulsions as “a shortsighted step” that would narrow the possibilities for diplomacy to resolve the crisis, according to Tass.

Also on Tuesday, France’s counterterrorism prosecutor’s office said it had opened three war crimes probes concerning “acts likely to have been committed to the detriment of French nationals in Ukraine in recent weeks,” giving French…

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