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Netherlands expatriates 17 Russian spies

The Netherlands has expelled 17 Russian intelligence agents who were accredited as diplomats, based on information from its own security services, the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.

“The reason for this (decision) is information from the AIVD and MIVD showing that the individuals in question, accredited as diplomats at the Russian representations in the Netherlands, are secretly active as intelligence officers,” the ministry said on Tuesday.

Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said the government was prepared for any retaliation by Moscow.

“Experience shows that Russia does not leave such measures unanswered. We cannot speculate on that, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is prepared for various scenarios that may occur in the near future,” he said in a statement.

Earlier on Tuesday, it was announced Russia has expelled 10 diplomats from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in a tit-for-tat response to the Baltic states’ recent expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow announced.

The Baltic states said that their expulsions of Russian diplomats were justified as they had been carrying out activities that were “incompatible with their diplomatic status.”

The decision was also an expression of solidarity with Ukraine, the Baltic States explained.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has now summoned the ambassadors of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to lodge a “firm protest in view of the provocative and unjustified actions.”

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