Moscow wants to downgrade diplomatic relations with the future Baltic state. The background is a dispute about the number of embassy and consular staff.
Amid tensions with Estonia, Russia has expelled the Baltic EU and NATO member’s ambassador.
“The ambassador of the Republic of Estonia has to leave the Russian Federation on February 7,” the Foreign Ministry said in Moscow on Monday. Diplomatic relations with the Baltic state would be downgraded, it said. The background is a diplomatic dispute over the number of embassy and consular staff. Estonia reacted immediately: In return, Russia’s ambassador should also have to leave Estonia.
Estonia had previously called for a staff reduction at the Russian embassy in Tallinn. This is intended to achieve a level playing field at the diplomatic level. For its part, Russia spoke of a “new unfriendly step” aimed at breaking off relations. After the Estonian ambassador was expelled, a chargé d’affaires took over the representation of Estonia in Moscow.
Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said after the Russian announcement: “Estonia will not move away from the parity principle,” he told Estonian radio. This means that the Russian ambassador in Tallinn must also leave Estonia by February 7th. At the same time, Reinsalu said that at the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, he would call on other European countries to follow the Estonian step and limit the number of employees at the Russian embassy.
Relations between Russia and the Baltic States have been fraught with conflict for years – also because of the different perspectives on the Soviet past. The beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine last February has again significantly increased tensions.
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