New Delhi: The Foreign affairs Ministry of Russia on Friday notified ambassadors of 23 countries of its decision to expel employees of their diplomatic missions in Russia in a reprisal response to the recent diplomatic actions by their countries against Moscow.
Ministry officials handed a protest note to the ambassadors which said a corresponding number of diplomats of their countries working in Russia were declared “personae non gratae” in response to their unjustified expulsion of Russian diplomatic personnel based on Britain’s unproven accusations against Russia related to the so-called “Skripal case”, the ministry said in a statement.
It all started earlier this month when more than two dozens of countries announced the expulsion of around 150 Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury on March 4.
According to the statement, the countries involved in Russia’s decision include Australia, Albania, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Finland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Sweden, and Estonia.
The ministry added that taking into account the fact that Belgium, Hungary, Georgia, and Montenegro decided to join the listed countries at the last moment, Russia “reserves the right to respond” to these countries.
In a separate statement, the foreign ministry said it has also summoned the British ambassador and instructed him that Britain will have to cut the number of its diplomats stationed in Russia to the same level as Russia has in Britain within a month.
Russia on Thursday also revoked the permit for the US consulate in St Petersburg – meaning it must shut down – and issued a protest note to the US Ambassador to Moscow, Jon Huntsman, regarding what it called “outrageous and unwarranted” diplomatic action against Russia.
The ongoing exchange of diplomatic sanctions has once again intensified tension between Russia and European countries.