Russia is expelling two employees of the Dutch embassy in Moscow in response to the expulsion of two Russian diplomats by the Netherlands last month. The Dutch duo must leave the country within two weeks. The Dutch ambassador in Moscow has been informed, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported Monday.
Ambassador Joost Reintjes was summoned to the ministry on Monday, where he was told that Russia strongly protests against the expulsion by the Netherlands.
The General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) reported on December 10 that it had dismantled a Russian “spy network”. The Netherlands rejected the Russian embassy employees because, according to the AIVD, they were intelligence officers.
One of the spies was engaged in espionage in the field of technology and science. He built up a large network of sources, all of whom were active in the Dutch high-tech sector, according to the intelligence service.
Moscow had already reported a “symmetrical” response. When diplomats are expelled, it is customary for the affected country to expel an equal number as a counter measure.
Kremlin: ‘Another round of anti-Russian hysteria’
The Russian government sees the espionage allegations as unfounded. “Once again, the Dutch authorities have resorted to their preferred method of making unfounded and defamatory allegations,” the ministry said.
The Kremlin speaks of “a new round of anti-Russian hysteria organized by The Hague with the help of pro-government media”. According to Russia, it shows that the Netherlands does not fully understand what the “real problems” between the two countries are. What the Russians mean with this quote is unclear.
The two diplomats who had to leave the Netherlands worked for the foreign intelligence service SVR of Russia and were accredited as diplomats at the embassy.
According to the AIVD, the espionage case “most likely caused damage” to the organizations where the Russian informants were active. The Russians were interested in information about artificial intelligence, semiconductors and nanotechnology.