Russia expels the Latvian ambassador
01/27/2023 10:02 PM
First, Moscow expels the Estonian ambassador from the country, and then, in return, the Russian envoy from Tallinn is expelled. The row is widespread: Latvia and Russia are also expelling each other’s ambassadors.
In retaliation for expelling the Russian ambassador from Latvia, Russia is expelling the Latvian ambassador. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow asked Ambassador Maris Rickstens to leave Russia in two weeks. The ministry criticized Latvia’s “total hostility against Russia” and stressed that Riga bore “full responsibility for the current situation”.
Russia already downgraded diplomatic relations with Estonia on Monday, expelling the Estonian ambassador. “The ambassador of the Republic of Estonia must leave Russia on February 7,” the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said. She added that diplomatic relations with the Baltic state will decline. The background is a diplomatic dispute over the number of embassy and consulate staff.
Estonia immediately replied: in turn, the Russian ambassador must also leave Estonia. Estonia had previously called for staff reductions at the Russian embassy in Tallinn. This aims to level the playing field at the diplomatic level. For its part, Russia spoke of a “new, unfriendly step” aimed at severing relations. After the expulsion of the Estonian ambassador, the chargé d’affaires took up the representation of Estonia in Moscow.
As a result, neighboring Latvia also expelled the Russian ambassador. The Foreign Ministry in Riga said on Monday that the reason for the decision was Russia’s continued “military aggression” against Ukraine and solidarity with Estonia and Lithuania.
Tensions have been rising between Russia and its neighbors in the Baltic region since President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24 last year. Lithuania downgraded its diplomatic relations with Russia in April in response to the atrocities in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, near Kyiv.