Russia expels Swedish diplomats, shuts down consulate in likely retaliatory move
Russia is expelling five Swedish diplomats and closing the Swedish consulate in St Petersburg, the Russian Foreign Minister announced Thursday in what appears to be retaliatory measures to Sweden expelling the same number of diplomats in April.
On Thursday, one month after Sweden expelled five Russian diplomats accused of spying, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced that five Swedish diplomats must leave the country.
The announcement comes as the ministry also reported that the Swedish consulate in Saint Petersburg will be closed from 1 September, and Russia will close its consulate in Gothenburg.
“The Russian announcement is very regrettable. Russia has chosen to expel Swedish diplomats who have acted within the framework of the Vienna Convention and conducted normal diplomatic activities in Russia.” the Swedish Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement, claiming it believes Russia is responding to Sweden’s expulsion of Russian diplomats in April.
“We also deeply regret the Russian announcement about the Consulate General in St Petersburg. The Consulate has been a driving force in bilateral people-to-people cooperation between Russia and Sweden in a broad sense.”, it added.
On 25 April, Russia’s Ambassador Viktor Tatarintsev was summoned to the Swedish Foreign Ministry as five Russian diplomats were asked to leave the country.
“Their activities on our territory have been incompatible with their status as diplomats,” said Foreign Minister Tobias Billström at the time.
The announcement was made during an interview on Swedish TV the day before an extensive publication on Russian intelligence activities at the embassy in Stockholm.
(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)