MOSCOW ( Associated Press) — Russia will expel Estonia’s ambassador and the country’s diplomatic delegation will be led by a charge d’affaires, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.
The ministry said Estonian ambassador Margus Ledre had been ordered to leave the country by 7 February.
From now on, Estonia’s diplomatic representation will be downgraded to an EU member state’s charge d’affaires to lead the delegation in Moscow.
The decision was taken in retaliation for “new hostile measures to drastically reduce the Russian Embassy in Tallinn”, the ministry said.
The Estonian Foreign Ministry earlier this month ordered Russia to reduce the number of its embassy to eight diplomats and 15 administrative, technical and service staff by February 1 in order to “achieve equality of embassy staff”.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Rinsaalu said in a statement on 11 January that Estonia had reduced its bilateral relations with Moscow to an “absolute minimum” since the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine. “We now set a limit on the number of Russian diplomats working in Estonia in order to achieve parity. Today’s measure corresponds to the low level of our relations in general,” he said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that “the Estonian government has deliberately destroyed the entire chain of relations with Russia.”
“Total Russophobia, blatant hostility towards our country has been raised by Tallinn to the level of state policy,” the statement said.