Germany and France Expel Russian Diplomats After Bucha Massacre

Germany and France Expel Russian Diplomats After Bucha Massacre

The Russians called the expulsions "unfounded" and are expected to respond in kind.


The German and French governments announced on Monday that they had declared seventy-five diplomats from the Russian embassies in their respective nations as “undesirable persons,” essentially expelling them from the country. The step was taken in response to the revelation of Russian atrocities in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv where the invading Russian forces are estimated to have killed hundreds of civilians.

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock made the announcement, explicitly linking the expulsions to the atrocities seen in Bucha and across Ukraine. 


“The images from Bucha speak to unbelievable brutality by the Russian leadership,” Baerbock said, adding that those who accepted Kremlin propaganda had developed a “boundless will to exterminate.”

The French Foreign Ministry separately wrote that it considered the Russian officials’ activities within France “against our security interests.”

Since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Russian diplomats have come under increasing pressure in the West; many Western and NATO nations have already expelled Russian officials for espionage activity conducted under diplomatic cover. In addition to the French and German expulsions, Lithuania ordered the Russian ambassador to leave the country on Monday.

Moscow characterized the German and French moves as “unfriendly” and “unfounded,” indicating that it would respond in kind—likely meaning that an equal number of French and German diplomats in Russia would be expelled.

After Ukrainian troops recaptured the town of Bucha last week, photos emerged of the corpses of Ukrainian civilians who had been summarily executed during the Russian occupation. Although Russia has denied responsibility for the incidents and alternatively described them as faked or conducted by Ukrainian neo-Nazis, satellite photographs obtained by the New York Times showed the corpses in the street during the Russian occupation.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has largely stalled amid Russian logistical problems and fierce Ukrainian resistance. In response to the lack of progress, Russian forces appear to have treated Ukraine’s civilian population harshly, both by mistreatment in occupied areas and by attacking civilian targets, such as apartment buildings and hospitals, on or near the front lines of the conflict.

Baerbock warned that “similar images” to the ones in Bucha might be found “in other places that Russian troops have occupied.”

She added that in addition to the expulsions, Germany would take further steps against Russia, including “imposing harsher sanctions … decisively expanding support for Ukraine’s fighting forces, and bolstering NATO’s eastern flank.”

Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.

Image: Reuters