ROME — Ukrainian embassies and consulates in six European countries have received packages containing animal eyes in recent days, a Ukrainian official said on Friday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook that the “bloody parcels” were received by Ukrainian embassies in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia and Italy, as well as consulates in Naples, Italy; Krakow, Poland and the Czech city of Brno. He said that “we are studying the meaning of this message.”
“This is a very strong signal,” Ukrainian Consul in Naples Maxim Kovalenko said, confirming that his office had received two letters containing fish eyes around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Nikolenko said the packages arrived after a package containing an explosive device sent to the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid caught fire when opened on Wednesday, injuring an employee. It was one of a number of explosive packages discovered in Spain this week.
Spain’s interior ministry said police evacuated the embassy in Madrid on Friday after another suspicious package was discovered. The ministry said the package was sent outside Spain and may have been part of a chain mail sent to other embassies in Europe. Police are examining the contents and have not found any explosives, the ministry said.
Elsewhere, the entrance to the Ukrainian ambassador’s residence in the Vatican was vandalized and the Ukrainian embassy in Kazakhstan was warned of an explosives attack, although this has not been confirmed, Nikolenko said.
In Poland, a Warsaw police spokesman confirmed by email that a package arrived at the Ukrainian consulate in the Polish capital on Thursday, which “caused concern” to one of the staff. The police department for the protection of diplomatic missions was notified and “we quickly removed the danger,” spokesman Sylvester Marchak said. He did not provide further details. Marchak said he was not aware of such a package arriving at the Ukrainian embassy in Warsaw.
Police in Krakow, in southern Poland, did not confirm an incident at the consulate there, but said a suspicious package was identified at a post office on Thursday. Police said the contents were being examined, but did not say who the package was addressed to.
In the Czech Republic, police said an X-ray scan found no explosives in an inspected package, but later added animal tissue had been found inside and was undergoing laboratory tests.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican, Andrii Yuras, said the entrance to his residence in Rome was vandalized Thursday afternoon with what he believed to be animal feces. The door to the apartment and the stairs and walls in the entryway were “smeared with a foul smelling substance,” he told The Associated Press. He said his wife and son were not home at the time and police were called.
“And also the diplomatic mission in Italy received some letters as well with some very nasty things in them, I mean some animal eyes. I don’t know exactly, but it looks like the eyes of a fish or other animals,” Yuras said. “So it’s hard to fully explain why and what is the reason for this terrible message, but without a doubt it’s a systematic trend, a systematic attack against Ukrainian missions in Europe.
In Croatia, police said the Ukrainian embassy in Zagreb called to report that a suspicious package intended for the embassy had arrived at the post office, but diplomatic staff did not pick it up after being alerted by the foreign ministry.
Croatian police detained the package and are investigating where it was sent from and what it contained. No other details were disclosed.
All Ukrainian embassies and consulates have increased security measures. Nikolenko quoted Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as saying that “we have reason to believe that a well-planned campaign of terror and intimidation of Ukrainian embassies and consulates is being carried out.”
Jovana Goec in Belgrade, Serbia, Monika Scislovska in Warsaw, Poland, Karel Janicek in Prague and Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed reporting.