A total of 27 employees of the Spanish embassy in Moscow and the Spanish consulate general in Saint Petersburg have been declared “persona non grata” on Wednesday. They must leave the territory of the country within seven days following the date of delivery of the corresponding note to the ambassador. It is yet another chapter in the Russian response to the expulsions of Russian diplomats that have been taking place since April in different European countries. who represented “a threat to the security” of Spain. It was also a sign of rejection of the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine. Since then, the Spanish embassy feared the response of the Russian government. Already at the time the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zajarova, warned that “there would be the corresponding reaction.”
The news came first thing in the morning. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had summoned the Spanish ambassador in Moscow, Marcos Gómez Martínez, to announce the measures regarding the Spanish legation. The summons comes one day after Russia decided to expel two Finnish diplomats in response to the declaration of persona ‘non grata’ by Finland -also last April- of two members of the Russian Embassy. In a recent parliamentary response, the Spanish Government had indicated that it was “aware” of the possibility of the expulsion of diplomatic personnel and assured that it was prepared “for this eventuality, in addition to keeping in close contact and coordination with its European partners.”
The French ambassador to Russia, Pierre Levy, was also summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday morning. The ambassador is expected to be briefed on the expulsion of 34 French diplomats from Russia in response to a similar move by France. In April, employees of the Russian diplomatic mission were expelled from Paris. The Russian embassy protested, and Moscow promised a “symmetric response”. Today the Italian ambassador has also been summoned for the same reason: 24 members of his delegation have been expelled by Moscow. Russia has already decided to close the consulates of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in the cities of Saint Petersburg and Pskov. In April, Moscow announced the expulsion of employees from the Belgian and Japanese embassies. The expulsion of employees from Russian diplomatic missions has been carried out by countries such as Germany, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain, the United States , Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and Japan.
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