In a growing spat between Russia and Czech Republic, Moscow on Sunday announced the expulsion of 20 Czech diplomats a day after Prague’s “unprecedented” decision to expel 18 Russian diplomats identified as secret agents.

A view shows the embassy of the Czech Republic in Moscow, Russia, on April 18, 2021.
A view shows the embassy of the Czech Republic in Moscow, Russia, on April 18, 2021. (Reuters)

The Czech Republic has said that Russia's eviction of 20 Czech embassy employees in response to Prague's expulsion of 18 Russian staff was a stronger than expected reaction and the government will consider further steps.

Acting Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said he had asked fellow European Union foreign ministers for "an expression of solidarity" at a video-conference on Monday.

"I expect that also on the basis of this ... we will learn about more expressions of support and it will be up to member states if they add some concrete decisions."

READ MORE: Czech government expels 18 Russian diplomats over 2014 blast

2014 explosion

The central European country ordered the Russian diplomats out on Saturday, saying it suspected Russian intelligence was involved in a 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot.

"The reaction (by Russia) is stronger than we had expected, it is more diplomats than the number of intelligence officers we expelled," Hamacek told a televised news conference.

"I will meet the prime minister and discuss whether and when it will be needed to take some further steps from the Czech side."

'Provocative and unfriendly'

The Kremlin on Monday called the Czech Republic's actions "provocative and unfriendly." 

The dispute is the biggest between the two countries since the end of decades of Soviet domination of eastern Europe in 1989.

The Czech government has said it has reasonable suspicion that two Russian intelligence agents accused of a nerve agent poisoning in Britain in 2018 were behind the ammunition depot explosion four years before that killed two people. 

READ MORE: Russia expels 20 Czech diplomats in tit-for-tat move

Source: TRTWorld and agencies