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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Czech Diplomats Expelled

Russia has ordered two Czech diplomats out of the country, Interfax reported Tuesday, in a spying dispute between the two countries at odds over U.S. plans to install an anti-missile system in Europe.

The expulsion follows Czech media reports Monday that two Russians had been ordered out of Prague, which has complained about an increase in Russian spying linked to the U.S. plans.

“This unfriendly act by the Czech side, which declared two of our diplomats persona non grata, could not be left without a response,” a Russian official told Interfax. “Two Czech Embassy workers in Moscow were told to leave Russia.”

“It is surprising that this information became public knowledge despite the fact that the Czech side itself proposed not to allow any leaks,” the official said.

Russia has also been involved in the reciprocal expulsion of diplomats in recent months with both Ukraine and NATO, and the latest dispute fits into a pattern pointing to Moscow’s poor relations with many European countries, said Masha Lipman, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center.

“How farsighted is this Russian policy of responding in kind to anything regarded as unfriendly? The fact is that as a result of [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin’s policies, it doesn’t have a single reliable ally,” Lipman said.

Russia can be a difficult, tough partner for many countries who in turn view it with suspicion and hostility, she said.

“In Central Europe, Russia has achieved its goal and the U.S. is no longer as anxious to install the missile shield as it was under President [George W.] Bush. But apparently it wants guarantees, and that will never happen. It’s something Russia won’t get,” she said.

The Czech expulsions were reported by the web site on Monday.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry declined repeated requests for comment, including a written question on Monday.

The Czech Foreign Ministry and the Czech Embassy in Moscow both declined comment.