Moscow - Russia said on Tuesday it was expelling 36 diplomats from two European countries in retaliation for similar measures taken against Moscow’s foreign envoys over the Kremlin’s military operation in Ukraine.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had declared 21 diplomats from Belgium and 15 from the Netherlands “persona non grata”, giving them two weeks to leave.

Moscow also summoned Luxembourg’s envoy, warning him that Russia may decide to take reciprocal measures for the tiny European state’s expulsion of Moscow’s ambassador. The expulsions are the latest in a series taken between Moscow and Western countries in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a military operation in Ukraine on February 24.

The offensive has thrown Russia into international isolation and broken many of its economic ties with the West. The Russian foreign ministry called a decision by the Netherlands to expel 18 Moscow envoys on March 29 “groundless”.