Russia expelled a total of 36 European diplomats on Tuesday, including four from Austria.
On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow declared 21 diplomats from Belgium and 15 others from the Netherlands persona non grata. This came in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats in connection with the Russian military operation in Ukraine. For the Foreign Ministry in Vienna, this move comes “unsurprisingly”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vienna regrets the decision
“We regret this unjustified decision taken by Russia, which has absolutely no factual basis. The relevant Austrian embassy employees exercise their functions exclusively within the framework of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” a statement said on Tuesday. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs continued that the work of the embassy in Moscow would remain in the interests of the Austrians in Russia and the maintenance of communication channels.
Austria’s ambassador to Moscow, Werner Almhofer, was previously summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. According to the Russian Ministry, a “decisive protest” was expressed over the baseless declaration of “persona non grata” by four employees of Russian agencies in Austria. It added that the four Austrians would have to leave Russia by April 24.
Russia expels four Austrian diplomats
According to the Russian embassy, four Russian diplomats left Austria before the “necessary date”. Last week, the Austrian Foreign Ministry revealed the identities of three of these four: the defense attache, the deputy consul at the Consulate General in Salzburg, the first secretary of the embassy, and the advisor to the permanent representative to international organizations. Mikhail Ulyanov.
According to the German news agency (dpa), four employees of the Austrian embassy were affected by the punitive measures. The ambassadors of all the countries involved were summoned to the Moscow Foreign Ministry.
14 Dutch diplomats expelled from Russia
In addition to Austrian diplomats, 14 employees of the Dutch Embassy in Moscow and 1 employee of the Dutch Consulate General in Saint Petersburg were affected by the expulsion of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The ministry said in a statement that the Dutch will have to leave Russia within two weeks. Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said he “regretted” Moscow’s decision.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Luxembourg’s ambassador was summoned on Tuesday to protest “decisively” the expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Luxembourg. The ministry said Russia reserves the “right to retaliate” for the “unfriendly and baseless” move.
The expulsion of Russian diplomats in the European Union
In recent weeks, several European countries, including Austria, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, have expelled dozens of Russian diplomats. In some cases, this was an explicit justification of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, in others it was about allegations of espionage. Moscow responded by expelling dozens of European diplomats.
In such cases, Russia repeatedly responds by expelling a similar number of diplomats. In early April, Germany declared 40 Russian diplomats “persona non grata”. Moscow has not yet responded to this.
“Food practitioner. Bacon guru. Infuriatingly humble zombie enthusiast. Total student.”