Russia says Poland destroying relations with expulsions, vows tough response

FILE PHOTO: Man rides a bicycle in front of the Russian embassy building in Warsaw
·1 min read

(Reuters) - Russia accused Poland on Thursday of trying to destroy bilateral relations by expelling 45 of its diplomats, and said it would respond harshly.

The Russian ambassador said Poland, which said on Wednesday it was expelling the diplomats on suspicion of working for Russian intelligence, had also blocked the embassy's bank accounts.

The Russian foreign ministry said the expulsions were "a conscious step towards the final destruction of bilateral relations, the dismantling of which our Polish 'partners' have been systematically carrying out for a long time".

It added: "Russia will not leave this hostile attack without a response, which will make Polish provocateurs think and will hurt them."

Relations between Russia and Central European countries that once formed part of its sphere of influence have long been fraught but the Ukraine conflict has significantly increased fear and suspicion of Moscow's intentions.

Russia on Wednesday condemned what it called a reckless proposal by NATO member Poland that armed international peacekeepers should be sent into Ukraine.

Russian ambassador to Warsaw Sergey Andreev said the embassy's bank accounts had been blocked on the basis that they could be used for money-laundering or terrorist finance.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: "I can only say in general terms that we have been dealing with the freezing of funds of the Russian Federation."

(Reporting by Reuters)