Moscow expelled the Estonian ambassador, accusing his country of “hostility to Russia,” in response to Estonia’s expulsion earlier this month of 21 Russian diplomats from its territory.
The Russians, on the one hand, and the Westerners, on the other, have intensified the expulsion of diplomats in recent years, especially since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24.
“The ambassador of the Republic of Estonia must leave Russia on February 7, 2023,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the downgrade of diplomatic relations to the charge d’affaires.
“In recent years, Estonian leaders have deliberately destroyed all relations with Russia. Tallinn has made a state policy of complete hatred of Russia and a culture of hostility towards our country,” she added.
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According to Moscow, Estonia’s January 11 announcement of the expulsion of Russian diplomats confirms the “policy of destroying relations” between the two countries.
“The full responsibility for the development of this situation in relations between Russia and Estonia rests with the Estonian side. We will continue to respond to the hostile measures taken by the Estonian leaders,” the ministry noted.
Estonia, which supports Ukraine in its dispute with Russia and which has many points of contention with Moscow since the collapse of the Soviet Union, justified the expulsion of Russian diplomats by the need to “achieve parity” in the numbers of diplomatic staff for the two countries in Tallinn and Moscow.
Last April, Russia ordered the closure of the Estonian consulates in St. Petersburg and Pskov and declared their employees “persona non grata”.
Moscow made its decision after the three Baltic states, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, expelled Russian diplomats following the invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has expelled diplomats several times since the outbreak of the conflict, notably 34 Frenchmen in May and 14 Bulgarians in August.