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Tit-for-tat spy expulsions worsen Russia-Romania relations

Diplomatic relations between Moscow and Bucharest have soured following an espionage scandal involving a Romanian diplomat alleged to have been trying to obtain military secrets

September 2010 - From the Print Edition

On 16 August the Russian authorities arrested Gabriel Grecu, first secretary in the political department of Romania’s Embassy in Moscow, for allegedly trying to obtain - from a Russian national - secret military information, thought to be related to the Russian military presence in the breakaway Moldovan republic of Transnistria.
Since 1992 Russia has maintained an army division in Transnistria, where the self-proclaimed leadership favour closer ties with Moscow than with the EU.
The Russian Foreign Ministry declared Grecu persona non grata for causing harm to Russia’s security interests.
On 17 August, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the “arrest and detention” of Grecu as it violated his diplomatic immunity.
In reply, Romania expelled a diplomat of similar rank from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bucharest, Anatoly Akopov.
The Russian foreign ministry called this decision an “unfriendly and unprovoked step”.
Moscow accuses Grecu of being in possession of espionage equipment fully exposing his illegal activities. “The Russian diplomat was not privy to any act giving rise to such decisions,” added the statement.
Since then the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it reserves the right to take retaliatory measures.
Russian MFA spokesperson Andrei Nesterenko later referred to Grecu as a Romanian spy who “botched” his mission.



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