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Moscow slams West for attempts to ‘recruit’ Russian diplomats

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s building in Moscow

Moscow has protested what it calls Western attempts to “recruit” Russian diplomats in the Netherlands, summoning the Dutch ambassador.

In a statement on Monday, Russia's Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Ambassador Gilles Beschoor Plug earlier in the day.

The ministry said it had summoned the envoy to "protest strongly against an attempt to recruit the military attaché of Russia's embassy in The Hague on October 20 by a representative of the British intelligence services."

"Such provocative actions are unacceptable... and hinder the normal operation of Russian establishments abroad," the statement read. Western secret services were also attempting several similar "provocations" against Russian diplomats in recent years in the Netherlands, it said.

According to Russia's Foreign Ministry, representatives of the CIA made an approach "in a park" back in December 2018 to a Russian diplomat with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The following December, CIA agents tried at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport to "encourage" an attaché from Russia's embassy to "cooperate," it added.

Moscow also denounced The Hague for "taking part" in "these illegitimate acts."

The ministry further mentioned another case in April, when "members of Dutch special services attempted to recruit three Russian diplomats who had earlier been declared persona non grata," prior to their expulsion.

Moscow said “surveillance equipment was discovered in the car of a (Russian) embassy diplomat in The Hague in July 2020.”

"Dutch authorities to refrain from these hostile acts which lead to a subsequent degradation in bilateral relations," the statement said, urging The Hague to take "comprehensive measures to prevent such incidents in the future."

Relations between Moscow and The Hague have deteriorated since the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 above the Donbas region of Ukraine in July 2014. The shooting occurred when a surface-to air missile, purportedly launched from the  pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory, hit the plane. The incident led to the killing of the 298 passengers and crew, 193 of whom were Dutch nationals.

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