France said it had uncovered a Russian intelligence operation on French soil and would expel six Russian agents it said were operating under diplomatic cover.
“After a very long investigation, the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI) uncovered on April 10 a clandestine operation by Russian intelligence services in our country,” France’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.
“Six Russian agents operating under diplomatic cover, and whose activities turned out to be against our national interests” have been declared personae non gratae.
The foreign ministry gave no further details of the nature of the Russian operation, nor did interior minister Gérald Darmanin, who said on Twitter only that it was a “remarkable counter-espionage operation”.
Remarquable opération de contre-espionnage. Bravo aux agents de la DGSI qui ont entravé un réseau d’agents clandestins russes qui œuvraient contre nos intérêts. Les agents impliqués devront quitter le territoire national. Dans l’ombre, la DGSI veille sur nos intérêts fondamentaux
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) April 11, 2022
France had earlier this month expelled 35 Russians with diplomatic status following publication of images of atrocities allegedly committed by Russian troops in Bucha after the invasion of Ukraine in late February.
That was part of a broader, co-ordinated EU response, with Germany also expelling diplomats the same day.
France has summoned the Russian ambassador several times in recent weeks, including over images and statements posted on Twitter from the embassy’s official account, which it called provocative and indecent.
On Monday the French foreign ministry said the ambassador’s number two had been summoned in his absence over the alleged Russian operation.