Russia announced Monday it is expelling 40 German diplomats in a stunning tit-for-tat move given the huge size of the group of officials being booted from Russian soil.
The Kremlin said it's a response to the "unfriendly decision" of Berlin to earlier in the month expel Russian diplomats due to the invasion of Ukraine.
In its latest statement, Russia's Foreign Ministry said it summoned Germany's ambassador to deliver a written note "declaring persona non grata 40 employees of German diplomatic institutions in Russia as part of a symmetrical response."
The ministry later affirmed that "A strong protest was made to the head of the German diplomatic mission in Moscow in connection with the openly unfriendly decision of the German government."
The families of the 40 are also expected to leave the country, meaning this will impact at least 100 Germans currently in Russia. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock blasted the move as "in no way justified" but admitted that it was "expected" due to the German government's prior anti-Russia move.
Germany's initial decision to expel what it described as a "significant number" of Russian diplomats was due to the "unbelievable brutality" of the Russian military, in a statement issued earlier in April.
Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz has meanwhile been accused of slowing NATO's response to the Ukraine crisis by refusing to approve sending tanks and other heavier weaponry...
Baerbock had justified Germany's prior punitive action against Russian officials based on accusing them of being "spies" and not diplomats.
Baerbock said Monday that the 40 Russian diplomats previously expelled by Berlin "did not serve diplomacy for a single day". But she characterize this new Kremlin move against German diplomats as unwarranted because they had "not done anything wrong."
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