Russia, Estonia mutually expel ambassadors

 Russia, Estonia mutually expel ambassadors

Russia and neighboring Estonia said on Monday (January 23) that they would expel each other's ambassadors by February 7, in a new dispute over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Estonia is a member of the NATO military alliance.

Both Russia and Estonia are belittling each other and have announced that their respective diplomatic missions in Moscow and Tallinn will be downgraded to be led by chargé d'affaires instead of ambassadors.

The Russian foreign ministry summoned Estonian ambassador Margus Laidre and ordered him to leave Russia within two weeks. Moscow said the expulsion of Ledley was in retaliation for Estonia's "new unfriendly steps to drastically downsize the Russian embassy in Tallinn".

Estonia, on the other hand, said it would expel Russian ambassador Vladimir Lipayev.

Earlier this month, Estonia ordered Russia to cut the staff at its embassy in Tallinn to eight diplomats and 15 administrative, technical and service staff to match the size of the Estonian staff in Moscow.

Estonia, once part of the Soviet Union, said on Jan. 11 that it had brought bilateral relations with Moscow to an "absolutely minimum level" because of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine last February.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that "the Estonian leadership has deliberately undermined overall relations with Russia." The

statement read: "This is outright Russophobia, and Tallinn has raised the cultivation of hostility towards our country to the level of state policy. "

This is the first time Russia has expelled an ambassador from an EU country since it invaded Ukraine.

Last October, the Estonian parliament passed a declaration declaring Russia a "terrorist regime".

Meanwhile, Estonia, Latvia and their Baltic neighbor Lithuania are already pushing Germany to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks to help fend off a Russian invasion.

Latvia has told its ambassador to Russia to leave Moscow by February 27. Lithuania had kicked out a Russian envoy and downgraded diplomatic representation between the two countries in April last year after Ukraine accused Russian forces of killing civilians in the town of Buta.

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