The Greek government has decided that they have to expel a pair of Russian diplomats, and have further blocked the entry of two more into the country. Greece has been dealing with a number of internal issues, most specifically, economic problems. The diplomats are being expelled, and blocked, on the basis of illegal acts against the national security of Greece, and intrusion into domestic affairs.
For better than two years, there has been significant tension between the governments of both nations, and this is not the first time Greece has accused the Russians of attempting to manipulate, or otherwise meddle with, Grecian domestic affairs. For the most part, the bickering between the two nations has dealt with regional security. According to a highly placed source within the Greek government that spoke to Ekathimerini, Greece has continually endeavored to get along with Russia, but they feel it has been a one-sided effort.
Russian Embassy official Victor Yakovlev was cited for immediate removal from Greece. The Greek government claims he has been at the forefront of efforts to expand Russian Influence, in large part by using money to endear themselves to Greek organizations, municipalities, and metropolitans within the Greek Orthodox hierarchy in an attempt to gain sway over Mount Athos.
By all appearances, Greece has gone further than most nations to try to maintain a good relationship with Russia. Even when other nations were expelling Russian diplomats over the Skripal affair, Greece allowed all Russian diplomats to remain on station. Reports at BBC confirm that despite having to take action against the Russian diplomats, Athens is hopeful to have a strong relationship with Moscow after the dust settles.
According to The Guardian, Zoran Zaev, the prime minister of Macedonia, at the NATO summit in Brussels, said that he knew Russia was behind some of the protests staged in front of his Capital at the time he was negotiating with Greece over the Macedonian name deal. This goes to further solidify Greece’s claims that meddling has been happening beyond their alleged meddling in the 2016 failed coup in Montenegro.
Russian officials have maintained their diplomats were not involved in any wrongdoing, and view their expulsion as an insult. Officials further stated that they would mirror whatever actions Greece took against them, and followed up by announcing that they were going to expel two Greek diplomats. There has been no word on which two diplomats would be expelled, or how soon they would make their removal effective.