Italy, Denmark and Sweden on Tuesday joined EU allies in expelling Russian diplomats over the war in Ukraine, with more than 120 sent packing in the last 48 hours.

The expulsions come amid international outrage over killings in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, where dozens of bodies were found over the weekend in mass graves or littering the streets.

"We have expelled 30 Russian diplomats for national security reasons," Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Miao told Italy's Rai television in Berlin, in news confirmed by the ministry in Rome.

He said Russia's ambassador to Italy, Sergey Razov, had been summoned earlier Tuesday "to notify him of the Italian government's decision to expel" the diplomats "as 'personae non grata'".

Denmark earlier said it was expelling 15 Russian "intelligence officers" accused of spying on its territory.

The government condemned what it called "Russia's brutality against Ukrainian civilians in Bucha".

"Deliberate attacks against civilians are a war crime," it said.

But Russian authorities have denied the charges of civilian killings in Bucha and other locations near the capital, with its defence ministry on Tuesday claiming they had been staged by Ukraine.

Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said diplomatic ties would remain with Moscow, and "the Russian ambassador and the rest of the embassy in Copenhagen are therefore not included in the expulsion".

Shortly afterwards, Sweden's foreign ministry announced it was expelling three Russian diplomats who conducted "illegal operations" there.

"Today the foreign ministry has decided to expel three Russian diplomats who are not working in Sweden in concordance with the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations," Foreign Minister Ann Linde said.

Retaliatory measures

The announcements follow similar moves by EU allies France, which on Monday expelled 35 Russian diplomats, and Germany, where officials said 40 diplomats had been sent home.

Also on Monday, Lithuania said it was expelling the Russian ambassador in response to "Russia's military aggression" and what it called the "horrific massacre in Bucha".

According to an AFP count, European Union countries have expelled more than 230 Russian diplomats since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Russia said on March 29 it was expelling 10 diplomats from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in a tit-for-tat move.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said Tuesday it was "clear that this is a pre-coordinated campaign" and that Moscow "will of course take retaliatory measures".

"This is a blow to bilateral relations, to the channels of diplomatic discussions," he said, adding that "the consequences will be felt for a very long time.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the world to enforce tough new sanctions on Moscow over the killings in Bucha, which he has described as "war crimes" and "genocide".

The Kremlin has rejected Western accusations that Russian forces were responsible.

It says that the images are fake or that the deaths occurred after Russian forces pulled out of the area.

But newly released satellite photographs taken by Maxar Technologies in mid-March, before the Russian withdrawal, showed what appeared to be bodies in some of the same places they were later found by Ukrainian troops and seen by journalists.

The European Union has offered to send investigators to gather evidence, while US President Joe Biden has called for "a war crimes trial".

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