Russia, Greece spat and diplomatic tit-for-tat

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference ahead of a two days NATO summit in Brussels

His remarks were in response to Kathimerini's report that Greece would expel Russian diplomats for activities inconsistent with their status.

Greek newspaper Kathimerini is reporting on its website that two more Russian diplomats have been banned from entering the country.

Sputnik is citing Kathimerini to say that Athens has accused diplomats of "attempts to collect and disseminate information, as well as bribing government officials".

It marks a rare downturn in diplomatic relations between Athens and Moscow, who have shared close ties for decades.

Commenting on Kathimerini's revelation that Athens was planning to expel two Russians, and bar entry to another two, over perceived attempts to broaden Russian influence in Greece, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told Skai TV on Wednesday that Greek authorities "cannot tolerate behavior that violates worldwide law and does not show respect to the Greek state".

Kathimerini claims that the Russian side tried to intervene in the Balkans issues the Greeks regard as particularly sensitive.

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Russian news agencies have said Russia will respond in kind.

Last month the two countries signed an agreement that if approved will see FYR Macedonia change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

They add that the decision for the expulsions is confined to the specific four persons, and does not change the broader good intentions of Greece toward Russian Federation.

However, Greece was not among them. "That has also occurred this time", Tzanakopoulos said.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were discovered unconscious on a bench in the Wiltshire city of Salisbury on 4 March after reportedly being exposed to a military-grade Novichok nerve agent.

The UK government says the nerve agent used in the Skripal attack was of a type developed by Russian Federation, but the country's authorities continue to deny any involvement.

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