EU countries expel Russian diplomats in Navalny dispute
February 9, 2021 7:01 am
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, [right], and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell [Source: AP]
Germany, Poland and Sweden on Monday each declared a Russian diplomat in their country “persona non grata,” retaliating in kind to last week’s decision by Moscow to expel diplomats from the three European Union countries over the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Russia had accused diplomats from Sweden, Poland and Germany of attending a demonstration in support of Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most high-profile political foe.
“We have informed the Russian Ambassador that a person from the Russian embassy is asked to leave Sweden,” Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde wrote on Twitter. “This is a clear response to the unacceptable decision to expel a Swedish diplomat who was only preforming his duties.”
Germany’s foreign ministry said Russia’s decision to expel the European diplomats “was not justified in any way,” insisting that the German Embassy staffer had been acting within his rights under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to “inform himself about developments on site.”
The ministry added that the decision was taken in close coordination with Poland, Sweden and the EU’s diplomatic service. Poland’s foreign ministry tweeted that “in accordance with the principle of reciprocity” it considers “the diplomat working at the Consulate General in Poznan as a persona non grata.”
In a statement, EU lawmakers also appealed to “all EU Member States to show maximum solidarity with Germany, Poland and Sweden and take all appropriate steps to show the cohesiveness and strength of our Union.”