Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 23 July 2021
Russian FSB Detains Estonian Consul
Russia is keeping up with the espionage and diplomatic war it has waged against Western states. This time Moscow hit Estonia, and more precisely its St. Petersburg-based consul. The incident resembles a provocation staged against a Ukrainian consul a few months ago. Russian counterintelligence outlets thus can take similar steps to target Russian-based diplomats of any state that Moscow recognizes as hostile.
On July 15, the Estonian Foreign Ministry said in a statement it had expelled a Russian diplomat in line with the principle of reciprocity as a response to the expulsion of an Estonian consul from Russia. Russia briefly detained the Estonian consul in St. Petersburg, Mart Latte, and subsequently declared him persona non grata for allegedly receiving classified documents. Estonia called the incident “unlawful.” This is another time when Russia and Estonia expel their diplomats. The Kremlin has already expelled Estonian diplomats twice this year, both in retaliation for Estonia’s expulsion of Russian diplomats. The FSB security service said consul Mart Latte was “caught red-handed while receiving classified documents from a Russian national, unavailable to other Estonian diplomats.” Mart Latte was one of the three Estonian consuls in St. Petersburg. The official was held for some hour and a half by FSB operatives for allegedly “receiving classified documents.” The diplomat was detained after a working session he had had at the State Polytechnic Institute in St. Petersburg. The next day, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the consul had been declared “persona non grata” and was given 48 hours to leave the country. A similar incident took place in April, also in St. Petersburg. Back then, the FSB detained a Ukrainian consul who had worked there for a long time. He was expelled on spying allegations. Possibly Russian agencies will stage similar operations to target consuls of other countries Moscow deems hostile.
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