Russian Consulate Closed & Dozens Of Diplomats Expelled After Massacre

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Lithuanian leaders have ordered the Russian ambassador to their country to leave amid increasing global outrage over the atrocities that Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s forces have inflicted in Ukraine. Recent reports have focused on newly liberated areas around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, where hundreds upon hundreds were killed — some of those killed were found with hands tied, and torture was reported, among other shocks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the actions of Russian personnel in his country as genocidal. Meanwhile, the Russian consulate in the Lithuanian city of Klaipėda will be shutting down, and the Lithuanian ambassador to Moscow is returning from Russian territory.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis remarked as follows on the developments:

‘In response to Russia’s military aggression against sovereign Ukraine and the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in various occupied Ukrainian cities, including the horrific massacre in Bucha, the Lithuanian government has decided to downgrade the diplomatic representation and the ambassador of the Russian Federation will be obliged to leave Lithuania… The brutality of the Russian occupation forces has gone beyond any norms of the civilised world… What the world sees in Bucha, unfortunately, may be only the beginning. As other cities are liberated, we may see more horrific instances of war crimes.’

Notably, the Lithuanian ambassador to Ukraine is also returning to Kyiv. Recently, the entire administrative region around the Ukrainian capital was cleared of Russian forces, although strikes across Ukraine remain possible even as Russian soldiers advance their offensives elsewhere. Luhansk-area Governor Serhiy Haidai said he “can confirm that there is a significant accumulation of troops and military equipment that is preparing for a major offensive” in his area, and Russian targeting of Ukrainian cities including Mariupol and Kharkiv is continuing. Meanwhile, Germany and France are also taking action against the Russian diplomatic presences in their countries in response to what’s been unfolding in Ukraine. Germany is reportedly expelling 40 Russian diplomats, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock described those targeted by the expulsions as having “worked every day against our freedom and against the cohesion of our society here in Germany,” saying their “work is a threat to those who seek shelter with us.”

The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs added on Monday that their country would “expel many Russian personnel with diplomatic status assigned to France whose activities are contrary to our security interests.” These moves follow earlier expulsions of dozens of Russian diplomats at a time from countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and Poland. Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes identified the expulsions in her country as connected to suspected Russian spying in which those affected were apparently involved. A Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said the 21 expelled Russian diplomats who’d been in the country “were all accredited as diplomats but were working on spying and influencing operations,” as Reuters summarized the matter. Among other developments in the worldwide push against Russia, the U.S. also recently seized a large, Russian oligarch-owned yacht for the apparent first time since the war in Ukraine began.