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Germany, Poland and Sweden expel Russian officials in diplomatic tit-for-tat

Germany, Poland and Sweden expel Russian officials in diplomatic tit-for-tat
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Three European countries have expelled Russian diplomats in response to the expulsion of European Union (EU) officials who were part of a delegation to Moscow headed by Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative.

The Guardian reported Monday that German, Polish, and Swedish officials moved to expel one Russian diplomat from each of their respective nations in response to Moscow's removal of three EU officials it said had taken part in anti-government demonstrations in support of Alexei Navalny, the jailed anti-Putin dissident.

Monday's move was a “clear response to the unacceptable decision to expel a Swedish diplomat who was only performing his duties," said Ann Linde, Sweden's foreign minister, according to The Guardian.

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Germany's foreign office told the newspaper that the German official expelled by Moscow last week was “carrying out his task of reporting on developments on the spot in a legal fashion," while Poland's foreign office added that it was joining the effort “in accordance with the principle of reciprocity and in coordination with Germany and Sweden."

Relations between the EU and Russia have continued to sour in the weeks following Navalny's poisoning and subsequent recovery in a German hospital. The Russian opposition leader has remained in detention since his return to his home country, while thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of Moscow to demonstrate in response.

Moscow's foreign agency responded to the news Monday at a press conference, calling the expulsions "unjustified and unfriendly" while adding that the expelled officials “were not the initiators of the collapse in relations," according to The Guardian.

The Biden administration has also sharply condemned Navalny's arrest, which was one of several topics President BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE raised with his first call with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBlinken, Lavrov to meet next week Former Russian mayor who encouraged pro-Navalny protests is jailed China's emissions now eclipse the developed world — preventing climate protection MORE.

“I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different than my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions — interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens — are over,” Biden said Thursday at the State Department. “We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interest and our people.”