The Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, announced this Tuesday that Spain will expel at least 25 Russian diplomats and Russian embassy staff in this country to represent “a threat to the security interests of our country” and for the “terrible actions carried out in Ukraine”, after the massacre in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
The ‘number two’ of the Ukrainian embassy in Spain, Dimitri Matyushenko, has previously reminded the Spanish Government that “This is not the time to think, but to act” expelling Russian diplomats, following the example of other European countries.
The declarations of the Spanish minister arrive only a few hours before the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, intervenes for videoconference with the Prime MinisterPedro Sanchez, the president of the lower houseMeritxel Batet, as well as deputies and senators.
Spain demands the investigation of “war crimes”
Minister Albares has detailed that the decision is a response “to some crimes that cannot go unpunished and about those who should conduct a thorough investigation“. “The unbearable images we have seen of the massacre of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha after the withdrawal of the Russian Army deeply outrages us. Spain requires that war crimes are promptly investigated“, he indicated.
In this regard, the minister recalled that Spain joined the decision of 38 other countries to request the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor’s Office “to investigate Vladimir Putin and the rest of those responsible for these crimes”.
“The images that reach us from Bucha and Mariúpol only reflect barbarism and this only supposes a turning point before which the international community cannot remain impassive and that requires a forceful response”, Albares stated.
Russia promises to respond to the expulsion of diplomats from European countries
In the last 48 hours, about 150 expulsions of Russian diplomats from different countries have been carried out. Italy has announced the expulsion of 30 diplomats from the Russian embassy for being a risk “to national security” and following the decisions of other European countries such as Denmark, Germany or France. The Swedish Government has also announced the expulsion of three Russian diplomats for allegedly carry out espionage activities.
The Kremlin has described these decisions as a “myopic step” and has warned that there will be retaliatory measures. “First of all, this measure will continue to complicate our communication, which is essential for the search for arrangements and, secondly, it will inevitably lead to response steps,” said the spokesman for the Russian Presidency, Dimitri Peskov.
In this sense, the Russian Foreign Minister, María Zajárova, has assured that Russia will give “the corresponding response” to the expulsions of its diplomats, while the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexandr Grushkó, has affirmed that they are a “planned campaign” and has warned that his Consequences will be felt for a long time.
Measures to “shorten the war effort” of Putin
The Spanish Foreign Minister has pointed out that “Spain’s position since the start of the Ukraine crisis has been take all measures that may shorten the war effort of Vladimir Putin and prevent it from being financed with European funds”. “It is the basis of all the measures”, he assured.
“We can understand that there are countries that have a increased exposure to Russian gas, but we are not going to stop making all the decisions for suffocate the Putin government and we will all do it together”, added Albares.
The minister stressed that “Spain is seeking nothing more than peace to return to Ukraine” and reiterated to the Ukrainian people that “it is not alone”. “Spain, like the vast majority of the international community, will follow supporting against a Russian aggression that knows no limits”he has asserted.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.