Germany has decided to expel 40 diplomats at the Russian embassy in Berlin for suspected links to spy agencies, Bloomberg reports. The move also serves as a "first response" to the killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
"The federal government has therefore decided today to declare as persona non grata a significant number of members of the Russian Embassy who have worked every day against our freedom and against the cohesion of our society here in Germany," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement.
She said images of the victims in Bucha reveal "the unbelievable brutality of the Russian leadership," and said there's concern similar photos could come out of other areas of Ukraine, per Bloomberg.
"We will initiate further measures of response together with our partners; we will further tighten the existing sanctions against Russia; we will resolutely increase our support for the Ukrainian armed forces and we will also strengthen NATO's eastern flank," Baerbock added. The diplomats now have five days to leave the country.
Last week, Bloomberg had reported that Germany was considering expelling a "large number" of suspected Russian spies.
Later Monday, France's Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs announced it would also be expelling from the country numerous Russia diplomats "whose activities are contrary to our security interests," per Axios.
Over the weekend, Ukrainian soliders working to reoccupy the suburb of Bucha discovered mass graves filled with corpses and roads strewn with civilian bodies. International outrage and allegations of war crimes and genocide immediately followed the reports.
Moscow has "categorically denied" having killed any civilians in Bucha, Sky News reports, though Ukraine does not buy that claim.