(Reuters) -Russia’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it was expelling five Portuguese diplomats in response to Lisbon ordering out 10 Russians last month.
The move was part of a long series of retaliatory moves by Moscow after European countries expelled more than 300 Russian embassy staff following Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
“They are required to leave the country within 14 days of the delivery of the corresponding note to the Ambassador”, the foreign ministry said, announcing the move against Portugal.
Portugal’s government condemned the decision, saying it had “no justification other than simple retaliation”.
“Unlike the Russian officials expelled from Portugal, these national officials were carrying out strictly diplomatic activities, in absolute conformity with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the Portuguese foreign ministry said in a statement.
Portugal expelled 10 Russian embassy staff – though no diplomats – at the start of April, saying their activities in the country were “contrary to national security”.
On Wednesday Russia said it was expelling a total of 85 embassy staff from France, Spain and Italy in response to similar moves by those countries.
(Reporting by Reuters; Additional reporting by Patricia Rua in Lisbon; Editing by Angus MacSwan)