Thursday, May 6, 2021

EU countries expel Russian diplomats – POLITICO

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Germany, Poland and Sweden on Monday each expelled a Russian diplomat, days after Moscow kicked out diplomats from the three EU countries for attending a protest in support of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

A spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry said “a staff member of the Russian Embassy in Berlin” has been declared “persona non grata.” The spokesperson added that Russia’s move “was in no way justified” and the German diplomat in question was merely “observing developments in Russia by lawful means.”

Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister, said on Twitter that “a person from the Russian embassy is asked to leave Sweden. This is a clear response to the unacceptable decision to expel a Swedish diplomat who was only performing his duties.”

Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet that a diplomat at the consulate-general in Poznań was now “persona non grata” in response to the “groundless expulsion” of a Polish diplomat.

On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned Russia’s decision to expel the three EU diplomats.

“I condemn in the strongest terms, from beginning to end, what has happened here — from the poisoning [of Navalny] to … the expulsion of diplomats. I think diplomatic tensions cannot be solved in this way and I declare my solidarity with the three countries whose diplomats have been expelled,” Macron said, adding that dialogue with Moscow was still important for “peace, security and stability” in Europe.

“I can only agree with this,” Merkel said, adding: “We consider what happened to [Navalny] to be far from the rule of law. We condemn his imprisonment and now also the expulsion of diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden.”

“We also … reserve the right to continue sanctions [against Russia], especially against individuals,” Merkel added.

Russia’s announcement of the expulsions came as EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell was meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. A statement from the European External Action Service said Borrell learned of the expulsions “during” that meeting.

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