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15 Apr, 2022 22:17

Russia kicks out more EU diplomats

The move is retaliation for the expulsion of Russian envoys, foreign ministry said
Russia kicks out more EU diplomats

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared 18 employees of the European Union Delegation ‘persona non grata’ as a response to the “unfriendly actions” of the bloc.

On Friday, the ministry summoned the head of the Delegation of the EU, Markus Ederer, to express his “strong objection” to the earlier “unjustified” expulsion of 19 employees of the Russian Permanent Mission to the EU and Euratom.

“The Russian side stated the EU was responsible for the consistent destruction of the architecture of bilateral dialogue and cooperation that has been created for decades,” the ministry said in a statement.

Ederer also was given a reminder of the necessity for the the bloc to obey the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

“As a response to the unfriendly actions of the European Union, 18 employees of the EU Delegation to Russia have been declared ‘persona non grata’ and will have to leave the territory of the Russian Federation in the near future,” the ministry said.

The European Union condemned what it called an “unjustified, baseless decision” of Moscow. The spokesperson of the bloc, Peter Stano, said this measure was “pure retaliation” which would “only deepen Russia’s isolation.”

“European Union strongly calls on Kremlin to return to respecting international rules and [the] cooperative approach to international relations,” Stano said on Twitter.

On April 5, the EU declared the 19 Russian diplomats personae non gratae, saying that they were “engaging in activities contrary to their diplomatic status.” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacted to the announcement by saying that Brussels should expect “appropriate measures” in response.

Friday’s news of the expulsion of EU diplomats has become the latest round in the ongoing diplomatic conflict between Russia and Western countries, which intensified after the launch of the Russian offensive in Ukraine on February 24. Dozens of Russian diplomats have been expelled and Russia has warned that each expulsion would incur retaliation.

Russia attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk Agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.