Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday that Moscow had expelled more than 20 German diplomats from the country. This is a response to a similar step on the part of Berlin.
A German Foreign Ministry official said Berlin and Moscow had been in contact over their respective representations over the past few weeks to reduce the presence of Russian intelligence in Germany.
“Today’s departure of Russian embassy staff is related to this,” the official said. It did not say how many Russian diplomats left.
Relations between Russia and Germany, which was the largest recipient of Russian oil and gas, has collapsed since Moscow sent its armed forces to Ukraine in February 2022, and the West responded with sanctions and weapons for Ukraine.
Commenting on the expulsion of German diplomats, Russian Foreign Ministry he announced that he strongly condemns “these actions of Berlin, which continues to ostentatiously destroy the entire range of Russian-German relations.”
He said the expulsions were “mutual” and that they significantly reduced the maximum number of employees of German diplomatic missions.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that the German ambassador was informed about these moves during talks on April 5. The German daily Bild reported that 34 of the 90 German diplomats remaining in Moscow had been ordered to leave Russia.
Russian plane in Berlin
As the dpa agency reminds, Germany and Russia have repeatedly expelled diplomats from their posts in the past due to serious tensions. Already, representative offices have been severely thinned out and the services they provide are limited.
“Bild” writes in turn that on Saturday at On October 9, a Russian government plane arrived in Berlin. The newspaper notes that the landing of the Russian plane caused consternation on social media. This is because European Union airspace and all EU airports were closed to Russian airlines in February 2022, following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. About three hours later, at 12:13 p.m., the Il-96-300 took off again and is expected to arrive in Moscow in the afternoon, the daily reported.
The spokesman for the German military aviation quoted by “Bild” explained that the plane had received permission for diplomatic clearance. However, he did not provide any information about the cargo or passengers.
“Bild” points out that it is not clear whether Russian diplomats could have been on board this plane and whether Russian representatives left Germany on Saturday or earlier.
In April last year, Russia declared 40 German diplomats undesirable and ordered their expulsion. This number corresponded to about a third of the German diplomatic corps in Russia. This, in turn, was a reaction to the expulsion in early April 2022 of 40 Russian diplomats who, according to Berlin, were operating in Germany as alleged spies.
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