Moscow expels three Polish diplomats in tit-for-tat move

Russia has expelled three Polish diplomats in a tit-for-tat move taken just hours after the Polish Foreign Ministry announced that three Russians from Moscow’s Warsaw embassy were to be expelled in relation to Russian cyber-attacks carried out on the United States.

The news of the expulsions came from Russian senator and deputy leader of Russia's Foreign Affairs Committee, Vladimir Jabarov, who told the TASS news agency: "I think the Poles will receive a no less severe response. If other countries join them, then so will they."

He added that Poland is a "faithful satellite that nods to every American speech."

Representatives of Russia's upper house also expressed the conviction that Poland and other EU states that are currently acting against Russia will "sooner or later" have to develop relations with it.

Jaborov pointed out that "America is far away but Russia is next door," adding that it is difficult to have such a powerful neighbour and not maintain any economic or political ties.

On Thursday evening the Russian ambassador to Poland was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry to be told that three of his colleagues were to be expelled.

"The ambassador was handed a note informing him that three employees of the Embassy of the Russian Federation were now regarded as persona non grata owing to behaviour detrimental to the interests of the Republic of Poland," the ministry said in a statement.

"Poland expresses its full solidarity with the decisions taken by the United States on April 15 on its policy towards Russia," the statement added.

The White House announced on Thursday that President Joe Biden had signed an executive order imposing additional sanctions on Russia in relation to its interference in US elections and hacking attacks.

The sanctions extend to limits on Russian government bond trading as well as the expulsion of 10 diplomats.

The sanctions come in response to hacking attacks on US government agencies last year and the Kremlin's awarding of rewards for attacks on US troops in Afghanistan as well as attempts to interfere in the 2020 US election.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they were also in reaction to an attempt to poison Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

As part of the move, the US Treasury blacklisted 32 entities and individuals it said were behind Russian-authored attempts to skew last year's US presidential election as well as other "acts of disinformation and interference."

Poland’s foreign ministry had earlier issued a statement condemning the attacks.

"The effects of these attacks reach beyond the USA and affect European states, among others," the statement said. "The constant increase in harmful activities in cyberspace threatens the security and stability of the functioning not only of certain entities or systems using digital technology, but have a negative effect on the societies, economies and governments of many states."

The communique went on to express Poland's solidarity with the USA.