Ukraine announced on Tuesday that it had ordered the expulsion of the Russian consul in the coastal city of Odessa, in response to the “unfriendly” deportation of an employee of the Ukrainian embassy in the Russian capital, Moscow.
The announcement came amid heightened tension between the two countries due to escalating fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine.
It is also considered what happened as a new episode in the recent series of mutual diplomatic expulsions between Russians and Europeans.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “due to the unfriendly measures taken against employees of the Ukrainian diplomatic missions in Russia, the Moscow consul in Odessa has been declared persona non grata.”
Last week, Ukraine expelled a Russian diplomat in response to Moscow’s request to leave the Ukrainian consul in Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.
According to the Russian Security Agency, the Ukrainian consul tried to obtain sensitive information from a Russian citizen.
In recent weeks, there has been a wave of expulsion of Russian officials from European countries and the United States, due to charges related to electronic piracy and espionage.
Czech authorities have ordered more than a dozen employees of the Russian embassy in Prague to leave.
This was followed by similar measures of solidarity from other European countries against Moscow’s diplomats.
For about 7 years, relations between Kiev and Moscow have been witnessing escalating tension, due to Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula to its territory, and its support for separatists in the “Donbas” region, east of Ukraine.