The Estonian ambassador to Moscow, Margus Laidre has been told to leave Russia on 7 February, the Russian foreign ministry said on 23 January; Estonia said it will not back down on the principle of parity, which means the ambassador of Russia must also leave Estonia on the same date.
Ambassador Margus Laidre was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry, where strong protest was expressed to him in connection with the actions of the Estonian authorities, and he was ordered to leave Russia on 7 February.
“In recent years, the Estonian leadership has been deliberately destroying relations with Russia. With its full russophobia and incitement of hatred against our country, Tallinn has risen to a new level in international politics,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.
According to Russia, Estonia has now taken a new unfriendly step by reducing the size of the Russian embassy in Tallinn, thereby confirming the direction taken towards the collapse of relations between Russia and Estonia. In response, Russia decided that the ambassadors of both countries will be replaced by charges d’affaires ad interim.
“The entire responsibility for the development of such a situation in relations between Russia and Estonia lies fully on the Estonian side. We will continue to react to the hostile steps of the Estonian leadership,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
The Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, announced on 23 January that Estonia will not back down on the principle of parity, which means the ambassador of Russia must also leave Estonia on 7 February.
Russia’s moves won’t deter Estonia from continuing supporting Ukraine
“Estonia takes note of the Russian decision today to downgrade diplomatic representation to the level of a temporary charges d’affaires ad interim. In its relations with Russia, Estonia is guided by the principle of parity, on which we will not back down. This means Russia’s ambassador in Tallinn will leave at the same time as the ambassador of Estonia, on 7 February,” Reinsalu said.
“The moves by Russia do not deter us from continuing our full support for Ukraine, which has been fighting for its sovereignty and the security of all of us for almost a year now. We will continue to support Ukraine in a situation where Russia is planning large-scale attacks and we call on other like-minded countries to increase assistance to Ukraine,” he added.
On 11 January, Estonia notified Russia of a decision according to which Russia must reduce the number of its staff by 1 February 2023 to eight diplomatic positions and 15 posted administrative, technical and service staff members.
The aim of the decision is to reach parity in embassy staff, which means that the number of positions in the Russian and Estonian representations operating in capitals will be made equal.
“Estonia considers the principle of parity very important in our relations with Russia. In light of the fact that during the war of aggression, the staff of the Russian embassy is not engaged in advancing Estonian-Russian relations, it is our view that there are no grounds for the current size of the Russian embassy,” Reinsalu said at the time.