Baltic nation expels Russian ambassador

Estonia has ordered the Russian ambassador to depart the country, its foreign ministry has announced, just hours after Russia told Tallinn’s resident diplomat to leave Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Margus Laidre on Monday, and informed him that he must depart by February 7. Tallinn has said the Kremlin’s envoy must leave at the same time.

“Estonia takes note of today’s decision by Russia to reduce diplomatic presence to the level of charge d’affaires,” Estonia’s diplomatic service wrote on Twitter.

“We stand by the principle of parity in relations with Russia, which means that the Russian Amb[assador] will leave at the same time as the Estonian Amb[assador] to Russia.”

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that “Russia’s steps will not deter us from providing continued support to Ukraine.”

This month, the Estonian authorities told Moscow to drastically cut the personnel working in the Russian Embassy in Tallinn by February 1. Russian officials later said the move had disrupted the mission’s consular services.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that it would reduce the level of bilateral ties.

“Tallinn has elevated total Russophobia and the cultivation of hostilities towards our country to the level of state policy,” the ministry said in a statement, accusing Estonia of “deliberately destroying” the relations between the states.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Monday that his country would downgrade ties with Moscow as well. “Due to the ongoing brutal Russian aggression against Ukraine and in solidarity with Estonia, Latvia will lower [the] level of diplomatic relations with Russia effective February 24, demanding Russia to act accordingly,” the diplomat announced on Twitter.

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