The Kremlin on Tuesday called on Western capitals to end their “mass anti-Russian psychosis” after the recent expulsion of Russian diplomats from several countries.
“We are calling upon everybody to calm down, to give up mass anti-Russian psychosis and to conduct a constructive and calm dialogue in order to overcome the disagreements that we have,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
As an example, Peskov said some nations were in the knee-jerk habit of immediately blaming Russia for any cyberattack.
“Russia always reacts to unfriendly moves. We cannot afford to tolerate them, but we remain open to a dialogue,” Peskov said, according to the Tass news agency.
The United States, Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have all recently expelled Russian diplomats, resulting in reciprocal punitive action by Moscow. Two Bulgarians were expelled on Tuesday.
Moscow’s already frayed ties with the West have come under further strain with the jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as well as escalating military tensions in eastern Ukraine.
The United States and European Union have hit Moscow with a raft of sanctions, with Washington also accusing the Kremlin of being behind a massive cyberattack that affected several US agencies.
On Tuesday, Peskov again rejected accusations by Prague that Russian intelligence agents were involved in a 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot that left two people dead.
The Czech Republic accused two Russian agents of being behind the explosion and linked them to a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Salisbury, England, in 2018.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Tuesday called the depot blast an “unprecedented terrorist attack on Czech territory.”
His government expelled 18 alleged Russian spies from the country. In response, Moscow expelled 20 Czech embassy staff.
The Russian backlash is being seen as disproportionate in Prague.
Interior Minister Jan Hamacek, who is also heading the Foreign Ministry on a temporary basis, noted the comparatively small nature of the Czech embassy in Moscow.
He said the diplomatic mission was now “paralysed” with the 20 departures and summoned the Russian ambassador for talks on Wednesday to lodge a protest.