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Russia Expels Over 20 German Diplomats in Diplomatic Spat

By Vusala Abbasova April 24, 2023

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The diplomatic rift between the two countries has been escalating, with both sides accusing each other of unfriendly actions. / Getty Images

The geopolitical tension between Russia and Germany has worsened as Russia recently expelled over 20 German diplomats in a retaliatory measure. 

On Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement denouncing what it called “another mass expulsion” of Russian diplomatic staff in Germany. The statement accused Germany of engaging in “hostile actions” against Russia.

“German authorities have decided to launch another mass expulsion of employees of Russian diplomatic missions in Germany. We resolutely condemn this step by Berlin, which continues to aggressively demolish the entire system of Russian-German relations, including their diplomatic dimension,” the ministry said in the statement.

Based on information obtained by Bild, Russia has expelled around 34 out of the approximately 90 German diplomats who were working in Moscow. This action was taken in response to the German government's decision to significantly reduce staff levels at the Russian embassy.

The diplomatic rift between the two countries has been escalating, with both sides accusing each other of unfriendly actions.

The German Foreign Ministry announced last Friday that it was aware of Russia’s decision to expel German diplomats.

“The federal government is in contact with the Russian side about issues regarding the personnel of corresponding foreign missions,” the spokesman of the ministry told TASS on April 21.

Over the years, Germany and Russia have enjoyed strong economic ties, especially in the energy sector, with Germany relying heavily on Russian gas. However, the diplomatic relationship between the two countries has been severely strained since Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine in February 2022. 

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany, along with other EU countries, imposed sanctions on Russia. In response, Russia added all EU countries to its list of “unfriendly nations.” In spring 2022, Germany, along with other countries, declared a number of Russian diplomats persona non grata. The German security service raised its level of alert against Russian espionage, which it claimed had reached unprecedented levels. The service also warned that Russia was targeting German companies and strategic infrastructure, especially in the energy, rail, and road sectors.

In the past year, Germany expelled 40 Russian diplomats due to security concerns. Moscow responded by expelling an equal number of staff from German diplomatic missions in a reciprocal action.