There were no prohibited weapons in the warehouse in Vrbetica, where there was an explosion in 2014. The Czech Defense Ministry said so on April 26 in a statement on Twitter.
“There is speculation that banned weapons were stored in Vrbetice. This is not true, as confirmed by the court. The Czech Republic adheres to international agreements,” the ministry said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier in the day that it was expecting explanations from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Ukraine about storing anti-personnel mines in Vrbetica, which bypassed the convention prohibiting such kinds of weapons.
The Russian Foreign Ministry drew attention to an article published by the German newspaper Die Welt on April 17, which was circulated by the international media, saying that there were “hundreds of anti-personnel mines” in the Czech depots in Vrbetica.
This information, the ministry said, casts doubt on the Czech Republic’s good faith fulfillment of its obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said on Monday that the Czech government’s statements about the explosions at the Vrbetica munitions depot were confusing and not very sane.
On the previous day, Czech President Milos Zeman did not rule out the possibility that the situation around the story of the explosions at the Vrbetica depot could be a game of the secret services. He pointed out that the intelligence report contained no evidence of involvement of “Russian agents” in this incident and called for waiting for the results of the investigation of the incident before drawing conclusions. According to the Czech leader, two main reasons for the explosion are being considered: careless handling of ammunition and interference of foreign special services.
On April 17, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said Czech authorities suspected Russian special services of involvement in the 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot in Vrbetica. On the same day, the Czech Republic announced its decision to expel 18 Russian diplomats.
In response, Russia declared 20 employees of the Czech embassy in Moscow persona non grata. As a result, by May 31, as a result of reciprocal expulsions, the Czech and Russian embassies would have seven diplomats, 25 technical staff, and 19 staff members.