Russia expels two Estonian diplomats in tit-for-tat move

May 31, 2017 4:13 pm

The photo shows a view of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

In a tit-for-tat move after the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Estonia, Moscow has retaliated by ordering two Estonian diplomats to leave .
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Estonia’s consul general in St. Petersburg Janus Kirikmae and Kantin Kanarik, a consular official in Pskov, had been declared persona non grata.
The ministry said the two Estonian diplomats had five days to leave Russia. It added that the move was “in connection with the unfriendly actions of the Estonian authorities.”
Estonia expelled Russian consul general in the eastern city of Narva Dmitry Kazyonnov as well as consul Andrey Surgaev last week. The Russian Foreign Ministry then issued a statement and said the “unfriendly” measure would “ultimately further worsen bilateral relations” between Russia and Estonia.
Relations between Moscow and Tallinn first soured in 1991, when Estonia separated from the ex-Soviet Union and later joined both the European Union and NATO in 2004.
Russia and NATO saw their ties start to deteriorate in 2014 over the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev’s army is engaged in deadly fighting with pro-Moscow forces.
NATO is currently deploying four battalions to the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Russia sees NATO’s military expansion near its borders as a security threat.
This is not the first time that a NATO member state expels Russian diplomats.
The administration of former US President Barack Obama ordered 35 Russian diplomats to return home in late December 2016 over an allegation that Russia had hacked email communications of the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential election.
Washington accused the Russian diplomats of being “intelligence operatives” as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the move as “something that was never seen in the diplomatic affairs of the world for decades.”
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