Russia Closes Multiple Baltic Consulates – Cites Arms Transfers To Ukraine

Russia Closes Multiple Baltic Consulates – Cites Arms Transfers To Ukraine

We detailed previously that since the Feb.24 invasion of Ukraine, Europe has booted at least 300 total Russian diplomatic officials from their host countries, as retaliation for Russia’s aggression but also based on broad accusations of “spying”. In a recent tit-for-tat move Russia announced Tuesday that it will expel 36 European diplomats from its soil, declaring 21 diplomats from Belgium and 15 from the Netherlands “persona non grata”. They’ve been given two weeks to leave Russian soil.

And on Thursday, the Kremlin has taken a further dramatic step, ordering the closure of three Baltic consulates while expelling all non-Russian staff. The closures have been ordered for consulates in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – citing among the reasons “military assistance to the Kyiv regime.”

Baltic states’ flags, via LRT

This was perhaps inevitable given the role these three countries have played in being at the forefront of coordinating Western and NATO arms shipments to Kiev – which the Biden administration announced this week will continue ramping up. 

A number of cities in the Baltics had already moved to close Russian diplomatic compounds, which Moscow “strongly protested”. This fresh order appears to be in direct retaliation, as The Moscow Times details

The Estonian and Lithuanian consulates in St. Petersburg, as well as the Latvian consulates in St. Petersburg and Pskov, will now have to close. The consuls were declared “persona non grata” and non-Russian staff “inadmissible.”

“We demanded that all the aforementioned persons leave Russian territory within the same time frame as the employees of the Russian consular missions from these countries,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. 

Crucially the foreign ministry statement highlighted the role these countries have played in arming Ukraine, citing “military assistance to the Kyiv regime and their cover-up of crimes by Ukrainian nationalists” in the wake of the invasion. 

Moscow Times notes that “Tit-for-tat Russian and western diplomatic expulsions have reached a 20-year high so far in 2022″ – and the war on the diplomatic front is expected to continue, also as direct Ukraine-Russia delegation talks are at a complete standstill, with each side blaming the other for lack of progress toward substantive ceasefire.

It goes without saying that so long as diplomatic communications go dark, and with officials being expelled from Europe and Russia at this rate, the prospect for any near-term negotiated peace in Ukraine looks bleak. 

Tyler Durden
Thu, 04/21/2022 – 15:40

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