Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Stockholm has pursued a “confrontational course” and orders the closure of Sweden’s Consulate General in St. Petersburg. The Ministry also shows the door to five Swedish diplomats in Russia.
In a retaliation move, Sweden’s Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry building on Smolenskiy Prospekt Thursday morning.
The Ambassador was informed about the decision to declare five diplomates “persona non grata”, including three from the Embassy’s Defense Attaché Office.
The Russian Foreign Ministry puts all the blame on Sweden. “These actions by the Swedish authorities further aggravated the situation in bilateral relations, which reached an unprecedented low level as a result of the ongoing Russophobic campaign in Sweden,” the statement reads.
Moscow, however, escalates the diplomatic turmoil. Additional to the expelled diplomats, Sweden was told to shut down its Consulate General in St. Petersburg by September 1.
As Russia withdraws from the agreement on Consulate Generals, it will terminate its own Consulate General in Gothenburg by the same date.
“We deeply regret the message from Russia about closing the Consulate General in St. Petersburg,” says Foreign Minister Tobias Billström in a comment. The consulate has a staff of three Swedes.
“The Consulate was an engine in bilateral people-to-people cooperation between Russia and Sweden in the broadest sense. Today’s decision is therefore a further confirmation of the negative political development in Russia and the country’s international isolation,” Billström notes.
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