Against the background of the war in Ukraine, diplomatic tensions are increasing between Germany and Russia.
Diplomatic exchange of blows: In response to the expulsion of German officials, the federal government has banned Russia from operating four consulates general in Germany. From the end of the year, Russia will only be allowed to operate the embassy in Berlin and another of the five consulates general so far, a spokesman for the Federal Foreign Office said on Wednesday in Berlin.
The Russian government has “taken a step of escalation” by limiting the total German presence in Russia to 350 people. “And this unjustified decision is forcing the federal government to make very significant cuts in all areas of its presence in Russia,” he said. The federal government has decided to close the German consulates general in Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk and to maintain a minimal presence of cultural mediators – for example at German schools and Goethe Institutes. The German Embassy in Moscow and the Consulate General in Saint Petersburg would be maintained.
“For the Russian presence in Germany, our decision applies reciprocally in order to ensure a balance between the two sides, both in terms of personnel and structure. That is why we have decided to withdraw approval for the operation of four of the five Russian consulates general in Germany,” said the spokesman . “This was communicated to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs today and Russia was requested to initiate the processing of the four consulates general in the Federal Republic of Germany immediately and to complete it by December 31, 2023 at the latest.”
Response to Moscow’s actions
The reaction to the Russian action had been closely coordinated in the federal government, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.
The federal government had previously sharply criticized Moscow’s decision to introduce an upper limit for German civil servants in Russia. This border requires “a major cut in all areas of our presence in Russia,” said the Foreign Office in Berlin at the weekend.
The new Russian decision means that several hundred German civil servants such as diplomats, teachers and employees of the Goethe Institute have to leave Russia. The upper limit comes into force at the beginning of June and, in addition to the diplomatic service, primarily affects the cultural and educational sectors. Among other things, positions at the German School in Moscow and at the Goethe Institutes in Russia have to be cut.
In the course of their serious tensions in the past, Germany and Russia have repeatedly expelled each other’s diplomats. The representations are already thinning out, the services for German citizens are reduced or are associated with longer waiting times, for example when documents are issued. The situation worsened significantly with the start of the Russian war against Ukraine.
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