Spain to expel around 25 Russian diplomats, foreign minister says

MADRID, April 5 (Reuters) - Spain will expel some 25 Russian diplomats and embassy staff from Madrid, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Tuesday, joining other European Union countries in its response to alleged war crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine.

"We have decided to expel Russian diplomats and staff from the Russian embassy in Spain who represent a threat to the interests and security of our country," he said after the weekly cabinet meeting, without ruling out further measures.

The minister added that the expulsions were also a response to "the terrible actions carried out in the past days in Ukraine especially in Bucha and the ones reported today from Mariupol." referring to the discovery of mass graves and civilian killings in the Ukrainian city of Bucha. read more

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"The crimes cannot remain unpunished," he said.

Italy, Sweden and Denmark had already announced similar expulsions early on Tuesday. read more

Albares said his government expected Russia to expel a similar number of Spanish diplomats in response.

However, he said Spain would not expel the Russian ambassador as Madrid wants to keep its own ambassador in Moscow and leave diplomatic channels open for talks with Russia to end the war.

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Reporting by Belén Carreño Emma Pinedo and Inti Landauro; Writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Andrei Khalip

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