RUSSIA said on Wednesday that it would expel 27 staff from Spain’s Embassy in Moscow in response to Spain kicking out Russian diplomatic staff from Madrid.

Spanish diplomatic staff have been told they are now declared ‘persona non grata’ which gives them seven days to leave the country.

The Kremlin also said it was ordering out 34 staff from the French Embassy and 24 from the Italian.

The move was hardly a surprise as it came in the wake of the expulsion of some 300 Russians by European nations since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Several Spanish diplomats have recounted how they already had their bags packed in anticipation of such a move, according to sources quoted in Spanish newspaper El Pais.

On Wednesday Spain’s Ambassador in Moscow, Marcos Gómez Martínez, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry to be told the news.

Jose Manuel Albares, Spain’s Foreign Minister told Congress that: “The Spanish government was expecting this measure from Russia,”

while insisting that the decision was not based on the on the principle of reciprocity.

Spain had cited “duly justified security reasons” for the expulsion of the Russian embassy staff from Madrid last month, “which is not the case now”, said a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

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