Germany, Sweden, and Poland are each expelling a Russian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move after Moscow’s expulsion last week of diplomats from the three EU countries for allegedly taking part in protests in support of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny, RFE/RL reports.
“Today the Federal Foreign Office has declared a staff member of the Russian Embassy in Berlin persona non grata,” the German Foreign Ministry said.
The Foreign Ministry said Moscow’s decision to expel the European diplomats “was not justified in any way,” insisting that the German Embassy staffer had been acting within his rights under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to “inform himself about developments on site.”
The Swedish and Polish governments made similar announcements.
“We have informed the Russian Ambassador that a person from the Russian Embassy is asked to leave Sweden,” Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde wrote on Twitter. “This is a clear response to the unacceptable decision to expel a Swedish diplomat who was only performing his duties.”
Poland’s Foreign Ministry said on February 8 that it had asked a worker at the Russian Consulate in the western city of Poznan to leave.
“The Foreign Ministry took the decision today in accordance with the principle of reciprocity and in coordination with Germany and Sweden to recognize an employee of the Consulate General of Russia in Poznan as persona non grata,” the ministry said on Twitter.
The Russian Foreign Ministry immediately hit back.
“Today’s decisions by Poland, Germany, and Sweden are unfounded, unfriendly, and are a continuation of the very series of actions that the West is taking with regard to our country and which we qualify as interference in our internal affairs,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told state channel Rossia 1.
Source – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty