Russia says 18 members of EU mission must leave Moscow

MOSCOW (AFP): Moscow said Friday that 18 members of the EU mission in Russia had been told to leave the country and blamed Brussels for destroying ties.

“Eighteen employees of the EU Delegation to Russia have been declared  persona non grata  and will have to leave the territory of the Russian Federation in the near future,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The measure came after 19 Russian diplomats were ordered to leave the EU on April 5.

The ministry said it summoned Markus Ederer, the EU ambassador to Russia, to inform him of the retaliatory measures.

The statement said the EU bore responsibility for the “consistent destruction of the architecture of bilateral dialogue and cooperation” that had taken “decades” to create.

Western nations have expelled dozens of Russian diplomats amid increasing outrage over Moscow s military campaign in pro-Western Ukraine, and Russia has said that it will respond to all such expulsions.