Sweden says expelling five Russian diplomats

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Sweden is expelling five Russian diplomats for carrying out activities incompatible with their diplomatic status, Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Russia’s embassy in Sweden declined to comment on the development.

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Russia and Western countries have engaged in tit-for-tat expulsions since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February last year. Russia calls the invasion a “special military operation.”

“Sweden has called up Russia’s ambassador ... and informed him that five people who are employed at the embassy have been asked to leave the country as a result of activities that are incompatible with the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations,” a foreign ministry statement said.

Concerns have grown in countries such as Sweden over Russian intelligence activities, with Swedish security police singling out Russia as a serious threat to the security of the Nordic country, which is seeking membership of NATO.

Earlier this month, Norway said it was expelling 15 Russian embassy officials that the foreign ministry said were intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover.

Sweden expelled three Russian diplomats in April last year in the wake of the invasion.

The foreign minister at the time, Social Democrat Anne Linde, said the three had undertaken illegal intelligence-gathering operations.

Germany, the Netherlands, France and Belgium also expelled Russian diplomats a year ago over alleged spying.

Europe has imposed heavy sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, while Sweden’s application to join the NATO military alliance has also attracted Russia’s displeasure.

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