From Reuters: Russia has ordered two Czech diplomats out of Russia, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, in a spying row between two countries at odds over U.S. plans to install an anti-missile system in Europe.

The expulsion follows Czech media reports on Monday that two Russians had been ordered out of Prague, including a deputy military attache. Prague has previously complained about an increase in Russian spying, linking it to the U.S. plans . . .

“This unfriendly act by the Czech side, which declared two of our diplomats ‘persona non grata’, could not be left without a response,” the Russian official told Interfax. “Two Czech embassy workers in Moscow were told to leave Russia . . .”

Russia has also been involved in the reciprocal expulsion of diplomats in recent months with both Ukraine and NATO, and the latest row fits into a pattern pointing to Moscow’s poor relations with many European countries, said an analyst.

These recent expulsions are the culmination of foreign intelligence activities revealed last year by both the Czech republic’s counterintelligence and military intelligence agencies. For more background on this story, refer to this report from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

Recent Czech intelligence reports have sounded the alarm over intensified intelligence activity by Russian and other foreign agencies focused on a planned U.S. missile-defense radar to be built near Prague and on strategic assets set to be privatized by the Czech government.

In its annual report issued on September 25, the Czech counterintelligence service BIS said that Russian agents had been working to stir up public opinion against the radar. “Russian espionage activities in the Czech Republic are currently reaching a particularly high level of intensity,” the BIS said, adding that over the last year Russian spies had sought “to contact, infiltrate, and influence people and organizations that have influence on public opinion.”

In a separate annual report issued on September 29, the Czech military intelligence agency (VZ) backed up the BIS findings, stating it had observed “concrete interest” from “foreign services” in the planned U.S. radar system, which Russia strongly opposes. (photo: Czech Radio)