In response to the expulsion in April by France of 41 Russian diplomats, Moscow announced Wednesday to expel 34 French diplomats from Russian territory. The approach of Russian diplomacy seems not to be limited to Paris: Moscow has promised to respond to each of the expulsions of Russian diplomats in different countries.
Russia announced Wednesday to expel 34 French diplomats, in retaliation for the expulsions in April by France of 41 Russians, in the wake of the offensive in Ukraine. The French ambassador to Moscow, Pierre Lévy, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday and given a note stating that “34 collaborators of French diplomatic establishments in Russia have been declared persona non grata“, said Russian diplomacy in a press release. They must leave Russia within two weeks, according to the same source.
A decision that “is not based on any legitimate basis”
France announced in April the expulsion of 41 Russian diplomats who, according to it, were engaged in espionage activities under cover of their embassy, specifying that the sanction was part of “a European approach”. Russia “strongly protested” on Wednesday against “the provocative and unfounded decision of the French authorities” to expel Russian diplomats, the statement from Russian diplomacy said, stressing that this measure “causes serious damage to Russian-French relations , as well as constructive bilateral cooperation”.
The French Foreign Ministry denounced the Russian response, noting that Paris had expelled “several dozen Russian agents”. And to add: “The work of the diplomats and the staff of our embassy in Russia is on the contrary fully within the framework of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations. […] The decision of the Russian authorities has no legitimate basis.”
Moscow will respond to each of the countries
Many other European countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Greece or Croatia have massively expelled Russian diplomats since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine on February 24. In some cases, these expulsions have been accompanied by accusations of espionage.
Moscow has promised to respond to each of these measures and dozens of Western diplomats have already been expelled from Russia. According to Russian media, the ambassadors of Spain, Italy and Sweden were also summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.