Context:

  • In mirror moves, Russia and the Czech Republic have expelled diplomats from the other country over a story about a Russian plan to ‘poison’ Czech politicians in 2020.
  • Prague (capital of Czech Republic) accused Russian embassy officials of being intelligence operatives, and said that it suspected them of being involved in a 2014 explosion at an arms depot that left two dead.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important Foreign policies and developments), GS-I: Geography (Maps)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Diplomatic tensions: Russia, Czech Republic, US and Baltic States
  2. Czech accusations on Russian embassy officials (Not important)
  3. Maps of the region:

Diplomatic tensions: Russia, Czech Republic, US and Baltic States

  • The diplomatic escalation between Prague and Moscow now in 2020-21, is believed to be the most serious since 1989, when the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe ended.
  • It also adds to the worsening of relations between the West and Russia, which are already being tested by Russia’s military buildup on its western frontier as well as in Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
  • The US has also said that it stands with its NATO ally in its “firm response against Russia’s subversive actions on Czech soil”.
  • The US too has adopted a tough posture against Moscow, and expelled 10 Russian diplomats after accusing the Kremlin of carrying out the “SolarWinds” hack and interfering in the 2020 election.
  • Slovakia and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania followed suit in solidarity by expelling diplomats as well.

Czech accusations on Russian embassy officials (Not important)

  • Russia offered scathing criticism of the Czech Republic’s decision, saying, “In their desire to please the United States against the background of recent US sanctions against Russia, Czech authorities in this respect even outdid their masters from across the pond”.
  • According to Czech intelligence, Russian operatives were involved in a 2014 blast near their border with Slovakia.
  • Reports in Czech media claimed that munitions at the depot were destined for Ukraine to fight Russia-backed forces, or to forces against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, which Russia supports.
  • Two persons linked with the blasts have been identified by the Czech Republic, and stand accused in the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent.
  • Russia has denied all accusations, calling them absurd.

Maps of the region:

Baltic states | History, Map, People, Independence, & Facts | Britannica

-Source: Indian Express

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