Prague, Czech Republic – Russia has released a list of nearly a dozen countries considered “unfriendly”, including Visegrad members Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russia releases list of “unfriendly countries”, including Czech Republic and Poland
Earlier this week, Russian state TV revealed the list of countries deemed “unfriendly”, according to the Kremlin. Apart from Visegrad Group members Czech Republic and Poland, the list also includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Confirmed a few days ago by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, the establishment by the Russian government of a list of “unfriendly countries” will be used to limit the number of local staff working at foreign embassies, diplomatic missions or agencies of said countries.
Signed on Friday by President Vladimir Putin, the law can restrict or ban Russians’ employment contracts with “state bodies and state institutions of foreign states committing unfriendly acts against the Russian Federation.”
The inclusion of Poland, one of the US’s closest allies in the region with notoriously tense relations with Russia, did not come as a surprise. The fact that the Czech Republic also made the list, however, has largely been linked to the events of the past few weeks and the revelation of Moscow’s alleged role in the deadly explosion of an ammunition storage depot in 2014. The diplomatic dispute that ensued led to the expulsion of some 20 Czech diplomats and over 70 Russian embassy staff.
A recent study found that a majority of the Czech population perceived Russia as a serious security threat to their country.
“A list of recognition”
A number of EU and NATO allies, including Slovakia and the Baltic countries, also expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with the Czech Republic.
Undeterred, many have taken their country’s inclusion on Russia’s “black list” as a badge of honour. “It’s like a list of recognition which countries’ efforts most efficient in containment and isolation of [the] Kremlin’s aggressive behaviour,” tweeted Linas Linkevicius, a former Defence and Foreign Minister for Lithuania.
“This is quality mark for our foreign and security policy,” doubled down Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at the Estonian Parliament. “France and Germany and other allies, it is time to join us!”
Another later version of the list additionally included Canada and Australia, but left out Georgia.