On Saturday, April 17, it became known that the Czech Republic was expelling 18 Russian diplomats, whom it identified as spies in the case of a huge explosion at an ammunition depot in 2014. Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced there are clear evidence that the Russian diplomats were linked to Russian secret agents.
The UK supports the Czech Republic and its decision to expel 18 Russian embassy staff due to an explosion at a military depot in 2014, as reported British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.
“The UK stands in full support of our Czech allies, who have exposed the lengths that the Russian intelligence services will go to in their attempts to conduct dangerous and malign operations in Europe.” The UK official declared his commitment to bring those responsible for the Salisbury attack to justice and approve the actions of the Czech authorities, which did the same. The minister believes that “Russia must desist from these actions, which violate the most basic international norms.”
The explosion occurred on October 16, 2014 at a warehouse in the city of Vrbetice, where 50 tons of ammunition were stored. As a result, two people died. Another explosion of 13 tons of ammunition took place on the depot on December 3 of the same year. According to Czech media reports, the explosion at the warehouses was most likely arranged by Russian agents in order to disrupt the supply of weapons, in particular, for the power units of Ukraine.
The deputies of the Russian State Duma expressed disagreement about this. Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian State Duma’s international affairs committee, emphasized that “the expulsion of 18 diplomatic officials is a serious blow to bilateral relations with Russia.”
Also, the day before, the Czech police announced that they had put two Russian citizens, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, on the wanted list. The reports do not specify what kind of case they are suspected of being involved in. The police say that this is a “serious crime”. The British intelligence suspected them of involvement in the poisoning of the former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
Czech First Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamacek, interim foreign minister, said on Sunday that the Czech Republic has already informed NATO and European Union allies about suspected Russian involvement in a 2014 explosion and he intends to raise the narrative of the so-called Vrbetice case at the EU ministerial meeting.