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Moscow Expels Greek Diplomats In Tit-For-Tat Move


Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had accused the Greek government of participating in "dirty provocations" against Moscow, and promised a "tit-for-tat" response to the expulsions. (file photo)

Russia says it has summoned Greece's ambassador to Moscow to inform him of "reciprocal measures" after Athens' expulsion of two Russian diplomats last month over allegations of meddling with its relations with Macedonia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry handed Ambassador Andreas Friganas a diplomatic note informing him of the measures taken by Moscow in response to Athens' "unfriendly actions toward Russian diplomats and citizens in July," the ministry said in a statement on August 6.

The statement did not name the Greek diplomats Moscow had expelled or say when it had asked them to leave.

Greece last month expelled two Russian diplomats from Athens and barred two other Russian envoys from entering the country, charging that they helped fund protests against the settlement of a long-standing name dispute between Greece and Macedonia that has accelerated Skopje's bids to join NATO and the European Union.

Moscow denied trying to block the settlement by helping to foment protests against it by opposition parties in both Greece and Macedonia, but it has severely criticized the agreement and its goal of facilitating Macedonia's NATO ambitions.

On July 20, Russia summoned Fryganas to express a "decisive protest against continued anti-Russian statements by the Greek side."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the Greek government of participating in "dirty provocations" against Moscow, and promised a "tit-for-tat" response to the expulsions.

The Greek Foreign Ministry in response denounced what it called "the constant disrespect for Greece" coming from Moscow and said it "must stop."

Macedonia is one of several Western Balkan states that have ambitions to join NATO and the EU. Russia strongly opposes NATO expansion in the area, which during the Soviet era was under Moscow's orbit of influence.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax
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