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Russian soldier on trial for war crimes in Ukraine pleads guilty

Russia has declared 34 French diplomats “persona non grata” in the country in response to a decision by France to expel 41 Russian diplomats in April, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. 

French Ambassador to Moscow Pierre Levy was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, and "strong protest was expressed in connection with the provocative and unjustified decision" of French authorities to declare 41 Russian diplomats in France “persona non grata,” the ministry said. 

"It was emphasized that this act inflicts serious damage to Russian-French relations and constructive bilateral cooperation," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. 

"As a response, 34 French diplomats have been declared 'persona non grata'," the ministry added. "They were ordered to leave the territory of Russia within two weeks from the date of delivery of the relevant note to the Ambassador."

France issued a statement and said it "strongly condemns" this move.

“The work of these diplomats and the staff of our embassy in Russia, whose courage and great professionalism France salutes, is fully within the framework of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations. The decision of the Russian authorities has no legitimate basis. We can only condemn it.”

In a similar fashion, Russia also expelled 27 Spanish diplomats in Russia in response to a decision by Spain to expel 27 Russian diplomats from the country in April, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

The Russian foreign ministry has been expelling employees of many embassies in similar retaliatory moves. Some of the most recent countries that received a similar response from Moscow include Finland, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, Denmark and Norway among others.

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