A slew of European Union countries and Russia are trading diplomatic expulsions amid boiling tensions over the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said in a statement on Thursday the Russian foreign ministry had summoned the Irish Ambassador to Russia and told him that two diplomats from the Irish Embassy in Moscow were asked to leave the country.
“There is no justification for the taking of this measure. The staff at the Embassy of Ireland in Moscow do not have, nor are engaged in, any duties or functions which are incompatible with their diplomatic status,” Coveney said.
“This decision to reduce the size of our relatively small Embassy in Moscow will significantly reduce our ability to provide services to our citizens in Russia and to maintain diplomatic channels of communication with the Russian Federation.”
Meanwhile, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark and Germany are among a handful of E.U. countries that have expelled Russian diplomats amid Moscow’s invasion in Ukraine.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced on Monday that “a significant number of employees” in the country’s Russian Embassy would be forced to leave, noting the horrific images coming out of Bucha, Ukraine.
Lithuania also said on Monday that the Russian ambassador to Lithuania would be expelled from the country and that the Consulate General in Klaipėda would be shut down “in relation to the aggression against Ukraine.”
Estonia announced on Tuesday that it had informed Russian Ambassador to Estonia Vladimir Lipaev it would be closing two Russian diplomatic facilities in Estonia and expelling 14 staff members.
“Undersecretary Volmer said that in light of the constant news of atrocities committed by the Russian forces, including in Bucha and elsewhere, there can be no talk of business as usual, especially in view of Russia’s grave violation of international law, including the international commitments it has taken upon itself,” the Estonian foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The undersecretary added that the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity must be held accountable.”
The announcements come amid an ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine, which has been widely condemned by the international community and is now in its second month.