Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 24 January 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Russia Expels Estonian Ambassador
The Estonian ambassador in Russia has been ordered to leave the country, the Estonian foreign ministry said in a statement. Many ambassadors will now be replaced with a chargé d’affaires – a diplomat of a lower rank acting in place of an ambassador. That is a new chapter in souring ties between the Baltic states and Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Estonian ambassador in Russia has been ordered to leave the country by 7 February, the Russian foreign ministry said on January 23. The Russian side decided to downgrade the diplomatic representative in both countries to charge d’affaires ad interim. Vladimir Lipayev has been appointed to Estonia since last February. In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry said Estonia had “purposefully destroyed” relations with Moscow. Moscow was told to reduce its embassy from 17 to eight by the end of January to reach parity with the size of its staff in Moscow. The Estonian Embassy in Moscow currently has six employees. In addition to Ambassador Margus Laidre (since 2018), the diplomatic representation includes deputy head of the embassy Jana Vanamölder, press diplomat Kirsti Viljamaa, consular affairs director Tarmo Punnik, consul Laura Lilleväli, and assistant Marina Grigoryeva. “Total Russophobia, the cultivation of hostility towards our country have been elevated by Tallinn to the rank of state policy,” the statement from the Russian foreign ministry read. Moscow has responded to a firm policy Estonia has followed over years by expelling Russian spies working under cover of diplomatic staff in a local embassy. By downgrading diplomatic representation, Russia is seeking to punish Estonia for its aid to Ukraine. The small Baltic state is at the helm of Western countries in terms of military assistance it delivers to Ukraine if compared to its total defense potential. Estonian recently announced its biggest military aid package for Ukraine, amounting to €113 million. The Estonian package consists of all 155mm howitzers the state has and thousands of rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition. Military assistance to Ukraine has grown to €370 million, or slightly more than 1 percent of Estonia’s gross domestic product. Latvia will become the only Baltic state to have an uninterrupted diplomatic presence in Moscow. In early April 2022, Lithuania downgraded diplomatic relations with Moscow, while Estonia followed suit.
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