MOSCOW, July 18./TASS/. Moscow understands that strong pressure was put on Greece to make it expel Russian diplomats, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
"We are well aware that the pressure Greece came under was very strong. I can say definitely that I am basing on facts," the diplomat said, noting that "Athens had managed to withstand the first waves of pressure, in particular in the situation when ‘solidarity’ was used as means of involving countries into a provocative activity of the UK".
"We have repeatedly proved that even in most difficult situations emerging in bilateral relations at the instigation of third countries, we always understand that fortunes of countries are involved, the destinies of the people who should not become hostage to the dirty games into which many states are pulled," she said.
"In this case it was a game that Greece was of course drawn into. The game was multi-stage, we simply know this," Zakharova said, adding that not only "British representatives" had been putting the screws on Athens, but also "American partners stepped in in earnest".
The diplomat expressed regrets over Greece’s decision, noting that such incidents in bilateral relations "don’t go unnoticed, don’t melt into thin air". "Unfortunately, this all mars bilateral relations without adding anything constructive," she added.
On July 11, the Greek Kathimerini daily reported, citing diplomatic sources, that Athens had decided to expel two Russian diplomats and ban another two from entering the country. According to the daily, the Greek authorities accuse the diplomats of interfering in the country’s domestic affairs and undermining the national security of Greece. The newspaper said that the diplomats were particularly accused of "attempts to get and disseminate information, as well as bribe state officials." Greek Cabinet Spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos later confirmed information about the expulsion of diplomats. In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow would take tit-for-tat measures in response to this step.
In an interview with Larry King on RT television, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov drew parallels between the expulsion of Russian diplomats and actions by Washington and London. He said that Western countries "build their policy on Russia, basing on such phrases as "most probably", "there is no other plausible explanation." According to him, the Greek government behaved the same way, without presenting any facts to prove their allegations.