Russia has declared Bulgaria’s military attache assistant “persona non-grata”. The move follows Sofia removing a Russian diplomat accused of spying on US troops.

This undated file photo shows the Kremlin building in Moscow, Russia.
This undated file photo shows the Kremlin building in Moscow, Russia. (AA)

Russia has expelled a Bulgarian diplomat in a tit-for-tat response after the EU and NATO member state declared a Russian military attache persona non-grata earlier this month.

The foreign ministry said on Monday, in response to the "unjustified" removal of its diplomat from Bulgaria, it had declared the assistant to Bulgaria's military attache "persona non-grata."

The Bulgarian diplomat Mitko Borisov was given 72 hours to leave Russia.

Bulgaria earlier this month expelled the Russian military attache after prosecutors opened a probe against him for spying on US troops based in the country.

It was the sixth case of a Russian diplomat or embassy official being expelled by what was once one of Moscow's most staunch allies over spying allegations since October 2019.

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Spying accusations

Moscow in October declared two Bulgarian diplomats persona non-grata after Sofia expelled two Russians on accusations of spying for the military.

The latest espionage row has soured relations between the two former allies, which have maintained their close cultural, historical and economic ties even after Bulgaria's communist regime fell in 1989.

The NATO member state is home to a joint-use US military training ground and US troops also use two Bulgarian air bases, as well as a storage site.

A former Warsaw Pact ally of Moscow, Bulgaria in recent years has also hosted a number of US-led and NATO exercises.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies