Poland has expelled 45 Russian diplomats suspected of collaborating with Russian intelligence services, Poland’s Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński announced on Thursday.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Kamiński confirmed that “45 Russian spies disguised as diplomats” had been ordered to leave Polish territory.
“We are taking down Russian special agents network in our country with all the determination and persistence,” he added.
A spokesperson for Poland’s interior ministry revealed that the country’s Internal Security Agency (ABW) had prepared a list of those suspected of operating in “diplomatic disguise.”
“They are operating under the diplomatic coverage, but in fact they are gathering intelligence against Poland,” the spokesperson added.
Special Services spokesman Stanislaw Żaryn made clear that the list includes the officers of the special services of the Russian Federation and their associates who were a part of the Russian diplomatic mission and have Russian citizenship. According to Żaryn, colonel Krzysztof Wacławek, the commander of the ABW, called upon the foreign ministry to “expel those persons from the Polish territory.”
Sergey Andreyev, the Russian ambassador to Poland who had been summoned by Poland’s foreign ministry to hear the charges, dismissed the accusations as baseless.
“There are no grounds for these kinds of accusations,” Andreev claimed, but accepted the suspects would have to leave Poland.
“They will have to go. This is a sovereign decision by the Polish side and they have the right to their own decision,” Andreev told reporters outside the ministry.
He did however assure that bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries remained in place. “The embassies remain, the ambassadors remain,” Andreev stated.
According to information provided by a source to the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna newspaper, the Polish government has called for other European countries to conduct the same actions against Russian spies in a “coordinated operation,” however no agreement has yet been reached.
Poland is not the first country to accuse members of the Russian diplomatic cohort of acting above their station.
Bulgaria has expelled ten Russian diplomats, while Slovakia has expelled another three. The Baltic countries have done the same with Latvia and Estonia expelling three diplomats each, and Lithuania expelling four to show “solidarity with Ukraine, which experiences an unprecedented Russian aggression,” the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense stated at the time.
Meanwhile, on Feb. 28, 2022, an American diplomatic mission to the U.N. revealed that the process to expel 12 Russian diplomats described as “agents of the intelligence,” had begun.