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United Kingdom supports Czech efforts to expose Russian malign activity

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Image Reuters The national flag flutters on top of the Russian embassy in Prague Czech Republic

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek on Sunday announced plans to discuss the 2014 explosion of an ammunitions depot in Vrbetice during a Monday meeting of European Union foreign ministers.

The dramatic accusations have nearly instantly threatened to destabilize the relationship between Russian Federation and the Czech Republic, which broke away from the Soviet Union in 1989.

The Czech Republic said on Sunday it had informed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union allies about suspected Russian involvement in a 2014 ammunition depot explosion and the matter would be addressed at an EU foreign ministers' meeting on Monday.

The 18 expelled Russian embassy personnel had been identified by Czech intelligence as members of Russia's GRU and SVR intelligence services.

"The Czech Republic is a sovereign state and must respond accordingly to these unprecedented findings", Babiš said.

Babis said President Milos Zeman, who is known for his pro-Russian views, has been informed about the development and has "expressed absolute support for us".

The individuals' photographs, shared online by the Czech police, indicate that the two wanted men are the same suspected Russian intelligence agents accused of trying to assassinate Sergey Skripal and his daughter in England in March 2018.

Separately, Czech police said on Saturday they were searching for two men carrying various passports, including Russian ones in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

The two were using Russian passports and were identified as Alexander Petrov, 41, and Ruslan Boshirov, 43.

"We are in a situation similar to that in Britain following the attempted poisoning in Salisbury in 2018", Czech Interior Minister and Foreign Minister Jan Hamáček said when announcing the results of the investigation on Saturday night.

Moscow's response to the expulsion of 18 diplomats should be proportionate, Dzhabarov said on Saturday.

The UK stands in full support of our Czech allies, who have exposed the lengths that the Russian intelligence services will go to in their attempts to conduct unsafe and malign operations in Europe.

Czech Industry Minister Karel Havlicek, meanwhile, told Reuters that the row with Moscow could influence a decision on whether Russian Federation is invited to bid on building a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant.

"Any such act, if finally confirmed, must have clear consequences", he said.

Information from the security services, he added, "will certainly be the basis for deciding who will be invited to the tender".

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