Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has commented on Austria's accusations of doping abuse against Russian athelets, as well as the expulsion of a Slovak diplomat from Russia.

Russia's Reaction to Follow Swiftly if Political Motives Confirmed

During a Thursday briefing, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called Austria's accusations of doping abuse against Russian athletes "wild", adding that Austrian police created a "strange, destabilising, and oppressive atmosphere of threats and distrust" for them.

She elaborated that it was too early to say if the situation was politically motivated, but "if this information is confirmed, namely, about there being some political component to this situation and some attempt to put some psychological pressure on the Russian athletes, then our reaction will follow swiftly".

Zakharova stressed that neither the Foreign Minsitry, nor the Russian Embassy in Austria has received any requests related to the athletes' case.

In the meantime, the Russian Embassy in Austria has requested Austria's prosecution to provide official information on accusations against Russian athletes.

Russian national team biathlete Alexander Loginov said that the accusations by the Austrian police were related to “some kind of cheating with blood transfusions” in February 2017. The athlete added that law enfordement officials had not provided any details.

Moscow Declares Slovak Diplomat Persona Non Grata in Tit-for-Tat Move

Zakharova also announced that Russia had expelled a Slovak diplomat, having given him two days to leave the country:

She also noted that the Slovak ambassador to Russia had already been presented with a relevant note on 11 December.

Prime Minister of Slovakia Peter Pellegrini announced the expulsion of a Russian diplomat on 5 December. According to him, the Russian diplomat was declared persona non grata on 22 November "based on information received from military intelligence", since "he was engaged in intelligence activities against Slovakia and NATO".