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NATO backs Czechs, condemns Russia for subversive behavior

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The North Atlantic Council on Thursday expressed “full solidarity” with the Czech Republic and chided Russia for its “destabilizing” behavior across the region.

The move from NATO’s political decision-making body came days after Prague expelled 18 Russian diplomats, claiming it had “clear evidence” Moscow’s intelligence agents had been behind a deadly 2014 blast in the country. The allegation has escalated tensions between Prague and Moscow, coming at a time when fears are already running high over the Kremlin’s military buildup along its border with Ukraine.

In a statement, the North Atlantic Council said the Czech foreign affairs minister, Jakub Kulhánek, had “briefed the North Atlantic Council on activities by Russian operatives inside the Czech Republic.”

The statement said Kulhánek also “confirmed” that the suspects behind the explosion are “the same two Russian intelligence operatives who remain wanted by the United Kingdom authorities” for the 2018 poisoning of an ex-Russian intelligence agent in Salisbury, England.

In addition to the 18 expulsions, the Czechs are now “considering further substantial measures,” the Council said. Russia expelled 20 Czech diplomats earlier this week in response to Prague’s allegations.

“Allies express deep concern over the destabilising actions Russia continues to carry out across the Euro-Atlantic area, including on Alliance territory, and stand in full solidarity with the Czech Republic,” the Council said.

On Wednesday, the European Union also expressed its concern about the Czech situation.

“The European Union strongly condemns the illegal activities on the territory of the Czech Republic that caused the explosions at the Vrbětice ammunition depot in 2014,” High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said in a statement. “Russia must desist from activities that threaten security and stability in Europe and run counter to Russia’s international obligations.”
 
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