As Russia’s hybrid influence abroad is regularly exposed, the expulsion of its diplomats has become quite a common thing. Numerous countries have detected intelligence officers under the disguise of Russian diplomatic staff in recent years.
Here’s an overview of the most recent cases:
- In April 2021, The Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian diplomats, which it deemed were intelligence agents, after it accused Russia of organizing the explosions at the ammunition depot in the Vrbětice complex back in 2014. Two Russian agents were suspected of direct involvement in the operation, “Petrov” and “Boshyrov”, also accused by the UK government of poisoning Skripals in 2018.
- A Russian diplomat involved in receiving classified documents from an Italian naval captain in exchange for money and his superior were expelled by Italy in March 2021. The files passed on by the naval officer allegedly included documents on NATO.
- In the same month, Bulgaria declared ‘persona non grata’ two Russian diplomats for suspected espionage. This followed the uncovering of a spy ring led by a former senior Bulgarian military intelligence officer: its members had been passing classified information about Bulgaria, NATO and the EU to the Russian embassy in Sofia.
We put together an infographic with all the states that exposed Russian intelligence officers under the guise of diplomatic personnel in 2020–2021.