Russia to shut Swedish consulate, expel five diplomats

AFP, Thursday 25 May 2023

Moscow said Thursday it was expelling five Swedish diplomats and closing Russia’s general consulate in Gothenburg and Sweden’s diplomatic mission in Saint Petersburg.

Employees of the Swedish embassy walk out of the diplomatic missionsgrounds in Moscow on May 25, 2023. AFP

The Russian foreign ministry said that the Swedish ambassador Malena Mard had been summoned and informed of Moscow’s retaliatory measures over her country’s “confrontational course”.

“A decision was made to declare five Swedish diplomats persona non grata,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

The move came after Sweden said in late April it was expelling five Russian diplomats for “activities not compatible” with their diplomatic status.

Russia said the expulsion was an “openly hostile move”, accusing authorities in the northern European country of conducting a “Russophobic campaign”.

Moscow’s general consulate in Gothenburg will be shuttered on September 1, the Russian foreign ministry added in a statement.

Sweden’s general consulate in Saint Petersburg will have to stop operations by that time as well, the statement said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom lamented the Russian decision as “very regrettable”.

“Russia has chosen to expel Swedish diplomats who have acted within the framework of the Vienna Convention and conducted customary diplomatic activities in Russia,” Billstrom said in a statement.

The foreign minister also deplored the closure of the Swedish consulate in Saint Petersburg, describing it as “a driving force in the bilateral people-to-people co-operation between Russia and Sweden”.

“Today’s decision is therefore a further confirmation of the negative political developments in Russia and the country’s international isolation,” he said.

Ties with Western countries have come under unprecedented pressure after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022 and the West introduced unprecedented sanctions against Moscow.

This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse.

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