Moscow, May 25: Moscow said Thursday it was expelling five Swedish diplomats and closing Russia’s general consulate in Gothenburg and Sweden’s diplomatic mission in Saint Petersburg.
The Russian foreign ministry said that the Swedish ambassador Malena Mard had been summoned and informed of Moscow’s retaliatory measures over her country’s “confrontational course”.
“A decision was made to declare five Swedish diplomats persona non grata,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
The move came after Sweden said in late April it was expelling five Russian diplomats for “activities not compatible” with their diplomatic status.
Russia said the expulsion was an “openly hostile move”, accusing authorities in the northern European country of conducting a “Russophobic campaign”.
Moscow’s general consulate in Gothenburg will be shuttered on September 1, the Russian foreign ministry added in a statement.
Sweden’s general consulate in Saint Petersburg will have to stop operations by that time as well, the statement said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom lamented the Russian decision as “very regrettable”.
“Russia has chosen to expel Swedish diplomats who have acted within the framework of the Vienna Convention and conducted customary diplomatic activities in Russia,” Billstrom said in a statement.
The foreign minister also deplored the closure of the Swedish consulate in Saint Petersburg, describing it as “a driving force in the bilateral people-to-people co-operation between Russia and Sweden”.
“Today’s decision is therefore a further confirmation of the negative political developments in Russia and the country’s international isolation,” he said.