Russia cuts ties with Estonia, expels ambassador | War news Russia-Ukraine

For the first time since the invasion of Ukraine began, Moscow is expelling an ambassador from an EU country.

Russia has soured diplomatic relations with Estonia and ordered its ambassador to leave, citing the Baltic nation’s “total Russophobia”.

Moscow’s move on Monday is the first time it has expelled an ambassador from an EU country since its invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.

“The Russian side has decided to demote the diplomatic representative in both countries to charge chargé d’affaires ad interim,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “The ambassador of the Estonian Republic will have to leave the Russian Federation on February 7.”

The measures follow Estonia’s decision to drastically reduce the workforce of the Russian embassy in Tallinn.

In response to Russia’s decision, Estonia said on Monday it would also expel the Russian ambassador from Tallinn in retaliation.

“We adhere to the principle of parity in relations with Russia,” Estonia’s foreign ministry said in a tweet.

In a January 11 statement, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu outlined plans to ease relations with Russia “to the bare minimum”.

“Now we are limiting the number of Russian diplomats working in Estonia to achieve equality. Today’s move is related to the nadir of our relations in general,” he said, referring to the ties damaged by the invasion of Moscow.

Estonian ambassador Margus Laidre was informed of the decision after being summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, the ministry said, accusing Estonia of “deliberately destroying” relations with Moscow.

Russia condemned Estonia’s “total Russophobia” and Tallinn’s “fostering of hostility” to the “rank of state policy”.

Commenting on the deterioration in ties, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Estonian government “got what it deserved”.

Estonia, a staunch ally of Ukraine, has called on Western countries to send tanks to Kiev to counter Moscow’s offensive. In October, parliament passed a statement declaring Russia a “terrorist regime”.

The Baltic country was once part of the Soviet Union and has had difficult relations with Russia for years.

Russia ordered the closure of the Tallinn consulate in St Petersburg in April.

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