Moscow expels Estonia’s ambassador after downgrading relations
Russia downgraded diplomatic relations with NATO member Estonia and expelled its ambassador in Moscow on Monday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the country’s diplomatic mission would be headed by the charge d’affaires.
The ministry said the Estonian ambassador, Margos Ledri, had been ordered to leave the country by February 7.
The statement said that Estonia’s diplomatic representation will henceforth be reduced to the chargé d’affaires who heads the EU’s country mission in Moscow.
The ministry said the move came in response to “the new unfriendly step taken by Estonia to radically reduce the size of the Russian embassy in Tallinn”.
Earlier this month, the Estonian Foreign Ministry ordered Russia to reduce the number of its embassy staff to eight diplomats and 15 administrative, technical and service personnel in order to “reach parity in the embassy staff” by February 1.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in a statement on January 11 that Estonia has reduced its bilateral relations with Moscow to an “absolute minimum” since the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine.
He said: “We are now putting an end to the number of Russian diplomats working in Estonia in order to achieve parity. Today’s step is linked to the low point of our relations in general.”
“The Estonian leadership has deliberately destroyed the entire scope of relations with Russia,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
“Fear of Russia, cultivating hostility towards our country have been elevated by Tallinn to the rank of state policy,” the statement said.