Sunday. 02.10.2022
TENSIONS

Two German diplomats told to leave Moscow, in tit-for-tat move

The Foreign Office in Berlin criticized the decision
17 December 2021, Russia, Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a Congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP). Photo: -/Kremlin/dpa - ATTENTION: editorial use only and only if the credit mentioned above is referenced in full.
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a Congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP). Photo: Kremlin.

Russia ordered two German diplomats to leave the country on Monday, days after Berlin expelled two Russian diplomats amid charges that Russian officials played a role in a contract murder in the German capital in 2019.

The move came following a Russian Foreign Ministry discussion with German Ambassador Geza Andreas von Geyr.

On Wednesday, a Berlin court ruled that an August 23, 2019, killing in a Berlin park was performed by a Russian man. Prosecutors say the murder was on behalf of Russian authorities.

Hours after the verdict, Germany declared two Russian diplomats personae non gratae.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the move was "a symmetric response to the German government’s ... unfriendly decision and it was emphasized [to Ambassador von Geyr] that the Russian side would invariably adequately respond in a proportionate manner to any of Berlin’s potential confrontational moves towards us in the future," according to TASS news agency.

The Foreign Office in Berlin criticized the decision. "This step does not come as a surprise, but, in the view of the federal government, it is completely unjustified," it said in a statement.

The Berlin Court of Appeal imposed life imprisonment on a Russian on Wednesday for the shooting of a Georgian national. The verdict spoke of "state terrorism," with the judges convinced that the 56-year-old was acting on behalf of Russian state authorities. Russia denies such accusations.

'Unfriendly actions'

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock spoke of a "serious violation of German law and the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Germany."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova then spoke of "unfriendly actions by Berlin" that could not go unanswered.

The Berlin government had already expelled two employees of the Russian Embassy during the investigation into the murder, justifying this with a lack of willingness to cooperate on the part of Russian agencies. Moscow reacted by expelling two German diplomats.

German-Russian relations have continued to deteriorate since Russia seized Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014.

This was caused, among other things, by the largest cyberattack on the Bundestag to date in 2015, for which Russian hackers are blamed, the poisoning of Russian dissident Alexei Nawalny and, most recently, the mass deployment of Russian troops on the border to Ukraine.

Two German diplomats told to leave Moscow, in tit-for-tat move
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