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Lithuania expels Russian ambassador over civilian deaths near Kyiv

Lithuania is expelling the Russian ambassador to the Baltic country after Ukraine accused Russian forces of killing civilians in the town of Bucha, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.

He added that the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine will not be forgotten.

“Russia’s ambassador to Lithuania will have to leave the country. Lithuania stands in full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, who are victims of Russia’s unprecedented aggression,” Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said in a statement.

The decision was communicated to EU and NATO countries. Lithuania also appealed to them to follow its steps.

Lithuania will close Russia’s consulate in the port city of Klaipeda and said its envoy to Moscow “would return in the near future”.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Latvia said it would take steps regarding its diplomatic ties with Russia, without giving specifics.

“Taking into account the crimes committed by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, Latvia will tighten diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation,” Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevics wrote on Twitter. “Specific decisions will be notified once internal procedures have been completed.”

Global outrage spread on Monday in response to civilian killings in north Ukraine where a mass grave and tied bodies shot at close range were found in Bucha, a town taken back from Russian troops.

The Kremlin categorically denied any accusations related to the murder of civilians, including in the town, where it said the graves and corpses had been staged by Ukraine to tarnish Russia.

Ukrainian authorities said they had found 421 civilian casualties in towns near Kyiv and were investigating possible war crimes in Bucha.

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