Russia warns Romania over diplomat's expulsion

18th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia's foreign ministry on Wednesday lashed out at the expulsion of a Russian diplomat by Romania in the wake of a spy scandal, warning that it reserved the right to retaliate.

"In Moscow this action is seen as a unfriendly and unprovoked step," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"We express a determined protest to the Romanian side, which has taken on itself full responsibility for the possible consequences. We reserve the right to take measures in response."

Romania on Tuesday ordered the tit-for-tat expulsion of a Russian diplomat, a day after a Romanian embassy official was told by Moscow to leave Russia for spying.

The Russian security service said Gabriel Grecu, accredited as the first secretary at the Romanian embassy in Moscow, he had been caught trying to receive secret military information and had "spying equipment" on him.

The foreign ministry said that by contrast the Russian diplomat expelled from Bucharest -- who remains unidentified -- "was not linked to any kind of activities giving a basis for such a decision".

"Linking the two questions means intentionally poisoning the atmosphere of Russian-Romanian relations," the foreign ministry added.

Meanwhile in Bucharest the foreign ministry said that Grecu had returned to Romania following his expulsion.

Relations between Russia and ex-Communist Romania, now a NATO member, have deteriorated over the last months even before the current spy scandal erupted.

Bucharest's decision to host three batteries of interceptor missiles as part of a planned US defence shield in Europe has riled Moscow, which fears such systems are aimed against it.

The strong support of Romania for the new pro-Western government in the ex-Soviet state of Moldova has also raised fears in Russia that Bucharest is seeking to end Russian influence in the country.

Moldova was part of Romania until 1940, when it was forcibly integrated into the Soviet Union as part of the Nazi-Soviet pact. It has a small pro-Russian territory, Transdniestr, which broke away a decade ago but is not internationally recognised.

© 2010 AFP

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