Russia expels Ukrainian diplomat as tensions with west intensify

Russian Foreign Ministry warns Ukraine about further possible measures

Russian White House, Moscow. [Photo: Fotolia]
Russia on Monday declared a Ukrainian diplomat persona non grata.

In a statement published on its official website, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it is a retaliatory move to the expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Kyiv.

It also warned that in case of further actions “additional measures will be taken against the staff of the Ukrainian Embassy, consulates-general and consulates in Russia.”

On April 18, Russia’s security agency said it arrested the Ukrainian consul in Saint Petersburg over spying allegations.

According to the Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexander Sosonyuk was detained at a meeting with a Russian citizen while trying to get classified information, including data from Russia’s law enforcement agencies and the FSB databases.

Sosonyuk spent several hours at an FSB office and then he was released but his presence in Russia was declared “unwanted”. He was recommended to leave the country by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

In a retaliatory move, Ukraine declared a Russian diplomat in Kyiv persona non grata.

Russia protested the move saying it did not expel the Ukrainian diplomat, and the Ukrainian diplomat “was caught red-handed committing illegal actions,” while the Russian diplomat was chosen at random and “did not commit acts outside the scope of his diplomatic functions.”

The conflict in the southeast of Ukraine has escalated in recent weeks. Kyiv and separatists accuse each other of violating the truce. Ukraine also accuses Russia of sending troops to the border, while Moscow says its moves are in response to “Kyiv’s provocative actions.”

Ukraine has been plagued by conflict in its eastern regions since March 2014, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

Fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists has seen more than 13,000 people killed, according to the UN.

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