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    Saturday, February 04, 2023

    Ukrainian embassies in Europe receive 'bloody packages'

    ROME — Calling it a "well-planned" campaign of intimidation and terror, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said Friday that a half-dozen of its embassies across Europe, as well as several consulates, had received "bloody packages" containing animal eyes.

    Those packages, combined with a spate of letter bombs detected in Spain — including one that injured a staffer at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid — have raised suspicion about links to Russia, while prompting Kyiv to ask for increased security at its overseas offices.

    A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman said packages were received at embassies in the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia, Italy and Austria, as well as at consulates in Naples and Brno, in the Czech Republic. One was later detected at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid.

    Yevhenia Voloshchenko, a Ukrainian official in Rome, said the parcel received at her embassy contained a fish eye. Czech police said the envelope in Brno contained "animal tissue," adding that it had first been checked for explosives and prompted an evacuation of the immediate surroundings, including a kindergarten. Police said a similar package also arrived at the Ukrainian Embassy in Prague.

    Separately, the Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See said the entrance to his apartment residence in Rome had been vandalized, with the outside stairwell, ceiling and front door smeared with a "dirty substance." An Italian police spokesman said the substance was fecal matter.

    "It was like a warning. Everybody needs to be prepared for a repeat of the same terrible gesture," the ambassador, Andrii Yurash, said in a phone interview. "Surely it's a way from the Russian side to threaten Ukrainian diplomats."

    He said his apartment building didn't have cameras, but soon they'd be installed.

    It is unclear whether the letter bombs in Spain have any connection to the other incidents across Europe. The letter bombs were received at high-profile locations, including the office of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, where the letter was disabled in a controlled detonation.

    In the case of the letter at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid, an employee suffered non-life-threatening injuries when trying to open it and received medical care.

    A letter also arrived earlier this week at a site of the arms manufacturer Instalaza, which produces the C90 grenade launchers sent to Ukraine by the Spanish government.

    Russia's embassy to Spain, on its official Twitter account, appeared to suggest Thursday that it had no role in the campaign, denouncing any threat or terrorist act against a diplomatic mission as "totally condemnable."

    The Spanish news agency Europa Press said Friday that the Spain's minister of the interior had communicated with other European countries, as well as the European Commission, warning that the letters "could be related to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia."

    Rafael Pérez Ruiz, Spain's secretary of state for security, said Thursday that it appeared all the letters originated from inside the country, but cautioned that the investigation was still ongoing.

    In Spain and across Europe, a segment of the population is growing increasingly frustrated with the war in Ukraine, which is having economic and energy consequences across the continent.

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