May 19, 2022

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Italy says war crimes in Ukraine should be punished and expels Russian diplomats

Italy says war crimes in Ukraine should be punished and expels Russian diplomats

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio speaks during a press conference following his talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, February 17, 2022. REUTERS/Shamil Zumatov/POOL

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ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said “war crimes” committed in Ukraine should be punished, while Rome said it had expelled 30 Russian diplomats on national security grounds.

In a speech in Turin on Tuesday, Draghi urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the “massacre of civilians”.

“President Putin, the Russian authorities and its army must be held accountable for their actions,” he said.

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Draghi called for an independent investigation into the deaths in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, which appeared on Sunday, sparking international outrage.

Russia denied responsibility for Bucha’s killing.

Draghi said Italy is in line with the European Union in its position on hostilities in Ukraine and “convincingly supports” a new package of sanctions introduced by the European Commission earlier on Tuesday.

Italy said earlier it was the latest Western country to expel Russian diplomats over security concerns after the invasion of Ukraine in February.

The Russian embassy in Rome said no evidence was presented to support the security concerns and that the diplomats and their families were given only 72 hours to leave Italian territory.

Ambassador Sergei Razov warned that such a move would further damage bilateral relations and that Russia would respond.

(Angelo Amanti reports). writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Agnieszka Flak and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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