Russia Expels German Diplomats in Reciprocal Move

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According to reports from Russian state media, more than 20 German diplomats will be expelled from Russia in a tit-for-tat move. The decision comes after Russia accused Berlin of destroying ties between the two countries and following the “mass” removal of Russian embassy staff from Germany. Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry, stated that “more than 20” German diplomats would be required to leave Russia. This announcement came shortly after the ministry denounced “another mass expulsion of employees of Russian diplomatic missions in Germany”. The German foreign ministry has acknowledged the Russian statement, but has not commented on any specific expulsion of Russian diplomats.

The Russian foreign ministry accused Berlin of “continuing to demonstratively destroy the entire range of Russia-Germany relations”. As a result, Moscow has decided to mirror the decision and expel German diplomats from Russia. Additionally, the maximum number of employees in German diplomatic missions in Russia will be limited. Germany’s ambassador to Russia, Geza Andreas von Geyr, was notified of these measures on April 5th.

For years, Germany has maintained deep economic ties with Russia, particularly in the energy sector where it is dependent on Russian gas. However, relations between the two countries have soured since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military operation in Ukraine. Berlin increased its financial and military support to Kyiv, which led to criticism that it had been dragging its feet over delivering weapons to Ukraine and was reluctant to allow the dispatch of German-made Leopard tanks to the country. In January, Germany finally agreed to allow the armaments to be sent and pledged to deliver some of the most modern ones from its stocks. The Kremlin responded by saying that the Western tanks would “burn”.

The German security service has raised the level of alert regarding Russian espionage, which it says has reached unprecedented levels after what Russia calls its special military operation in Ukraine. It claims that Russia is targeting German companies and strategic infrastructure, especially energy, rail and road. In early 2020, Germany expelled 40 Russian diplomats who it said represented a security threat. In October of the same year, Germany’s cybersecurity chief, Arne Schoenbohm, was sacked after allegations that he had ties to Russian intelligence services.

In conclusion, the expulsion of German diplomats from Russia is a tit-for-tat move in response to the “mass” removal of Russian embassy staff from Germany. The decision comes amid soured relations between the two countries, which have been exacerbated by Germany’s increased support for Ukraine and its concerns over Russian espionage. It remains to be seen how this latest development will impact the already strained relationship between Russia and Germany.