MOSCOW (AA): The Russian Foreign Ministry protested on Tuesday the expulsion of its diplomat from Ukraine.
In a statement published on its website, the ministry called “unfriendly” the step of the Ukrainian side, taken in response to Russia’s decision to declare Alexander Sosonyuk, Ukrainian consul in Saint Petersburg, persona non grata.
The diplomatic service said Kyiv cannot call the move “symmetrical” beca-use the Ukrainian diplomat “was caught red-handed committing illegal actions,” while the Russian diplomat was chosen at random and “did not commit acts outside the scope of his diplomatic functions.”
“The Ukrainian consul was advised to leave Russia after he was caught red-handed committing illegal acts. He tried to acquire classified databases of Russian law enforcement agencies containing personal information about individuals, necessary to the Kyiv authorities to prepare political repressions against their own compatriots who have dual citizenship of Russia and Ukraine or who have property and relatives in our country.
Russia’s security agency said on Saturday it arrested the Ukrainian consul in Saint Petersburg over spying allegations.
According to the Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexander Sosonyuk was detained at a meeting with a Russian citizen while trying to get classified information, including data from Russia’s law enforcement agencies and the Federal Security Service databases.
Sosonyuk spent several hours at an FSB office and then was released but his presence in Russia was declared “unwanted” and he was recommended to leave the country by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
In a retaliatory move, Ukraine declared persona non grata a Russian diplomat in Kyiv.
The conflict in the southeast of Ukraine has escalated in recent weeks. Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists accuse each other of violating the truce.
In recent weeks, Russia has gathered combat-ready forces close to the Ukrainian border which is considered as the largest massing of Russian troops since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.