Russia has announced the expulsion of dozens of French and Italian diplomats in a “retaliatory” move for their similar actions as part of a coordinated European action over Russia’s campaign in Ukraine.

The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on May 18 that it had informed the French ambassador that 34 employees of French “diplomatic institutions in Russia” had been declared personae non grata and must leave the country within two weeks.

The same day, the ministry said 24 Italian diplomats were also being expelled for similar reasons.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called the decision a “hostile act” that he said “absolutely must not lead to an interruption of diplomatic channels because it is through those channels that, if we succeed, peace will be achieved and that is certainly what we want.”

France, which in April kicked out 35 Russians with diplomatic status, condemned the May 18 move by Moscow.

At the same time, Rome informed Moscow that 30 Russian diplomats had been told to leave the country “for national security reasons.”