Italian Prime Minister termed Russia's move a "hostile act". (File)Moscow:
Moscow today expelled 24 Italian and 27 Spanish diplomats, according to the Russian foreign ministry, in tit-for-tat responses to the expulsion of Russian diplomats over the Ukraine conflict.
The ministry said in a statement that 27 employees of the Spanish embassy in Moscow and the Spanish Consulate General in Saint Petersburg "have been declared persona non grata", while ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian news agencies that 24 Italian diplomats had also been expelled.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Graghi condemned the "hostile act" of Russia's decision to expel a wave of European envoys, including Italians, but said diplomatic channels must remain open.
"This is clearly a hostile act, it's also a reaction to our expulsions," he told a press conference with Finland's premier, adding that diplomatic channels must remain open "because it's through those channels that, if possible, peace (in Ukraine) will be achieved".
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