VIENNA: Austria is expelling four Russian diplomats working in Vienna, the Foreign Ministry said. The four officials must leave the country by February 8, the ministry said, noting they had carried out acts that were incompatible with their diplomatic status.
The ministry did not provide any further details. Two diplomats working in the Russian embassy and two who worked at the Russian permanent mission to the United Nations in Vienna are involved. The move comes nearly a year after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Moscow's war efforts have been flagging, but the Kremlin is expected to launch a major push ahead of the winter thaw.
According to Austrian newspaper Die Presse, the four Russians expelled occupy high-ranking positions. The Austrian capital is considered a spy stronghold because of its many international organisations.
Austria had already expelled four Russian diplomats last April.
Gerhard Mangott, a Russia expert at the University of Innsbruck, linked the latest expulsions to an upcoming meeting of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Austria will have to let several Russian diplomats enter the country for the meeting under international law and so has acted now so Vienna does not look too Russia-friendly, Mangott wrote on Twitter.
A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman dismissed the connection. "This is far-fetched," she said. The Russian delegation for the meeting will have to leave immediately once it is over. -- dpa