Europe

Czech Defense Ministry Says Vrbetice Warehouses Did Not Store Banned Weapons

PRAGUE (Sputnik) – The Czech Defense Ministry on Monday rejected reports that the warehouses in Vrbetice that blew up in 2014 stored illegal weaponry.

On Saturday, The New York Times reported that Bulgarian arms merchant Emilian Gebrev confirmed to the news outlet that he had supplied weapons to Kiev during the active phase of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and stored ammunition in Vrbetice warehouses. Later, Czech President Milos Zeman said that the investigation of the 2014 blasts confirmed that the arms stored in the depots belonged to the Bulgarian businessman. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, then challenged Prague to disclose what kind of weapons were stored in Vrbetice at the time.

“There are speculations that banned weapons were stored in Vrbetice. This is not true, which was confirmed by a court. The Czech Republic follows international agreements,” the ministry said on Twitter.

On April 17, Prague announced that 18 Russian diplomats would be expelled from the country on suspicion of being officers of Russia’s special services.

According to Prime Minister Andrej Babis, the reason for such a move is the suspicion that Russian military intelligence officers were involved in the 2014 explosion in Vrbetice, which killed two Czech nationals.

Moscow retaliated by expelling 20 Czech diplomats, prompting Prague to order more diplomats out of the country in response.

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