The Russian authorities have started compiling a list of countries that are deemed “unfriendly” towards it – and Estonia is one of them.
So far, the “unfriendly” countries’ list contains the US, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Georgia.
Russian foreign policy analyst Maxim Suchkov tweeted the list was only of “candidate states” currently being discussed, which he said had “ended up leaked”, according to Newsweek.
Russian news agency TASS says the countries added on the “unfriendly” list are banned from hiring Russian citizens for work in the diplomatic missions.
The Russian “foreign policy is absolutely peaceful”
“As you know, yesterday the decree of president [Vladimir Putin] was published, which contains a whole number of measures on fulfilling the already existing federal laws, under which those states, which are declared unfriendly, cannot hire Russian citizens as staff for their diplomatic and consular missions,” Maria Zakharova, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry, said.
According to TASS, Zakharova stressed that the president’s decree was a retaliatory measure against other countries’ hostile steps.
“We have always highlighted that our foreign policy is absolutely peaceful. […] But we have also always stressed that all steps, which we consider as unfriendly and hostile will never remain unanswered. […] That package of measures, which is being taken now, is certainly a retaliatory measure.”
“These aren’t aggressive steps by our country, this is a response and protection of our country from hostile and unfriendly steps by those, who are preoccupied about us, and those who are somehow trying to halt our development: through the containment policy and through isolation attempts,” she added.
Germany and France regarded a “negotiating party”
Marko Mihkelson, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Estonian parliament, commented on Facebook that Russia hasn’t surprised anyone.
“The hint of the unfriendly countries’ list, compiled by [the Russian] government shows, which countries best understand the character of the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy,” Mihkelson said. “Germany and France should be pretty jealous.”
According to Newsweek, a member of the Russian state duma, Oleg Shein, said that Germany and France were left off the list because Moscow considered them as sufficiently independent from Washington, DC – “they are a negotiating party for us,” Shein reportedly said.
A spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitri Peskov, reportedly told journalists that the list had not been finalised, and that he was “unaware if there is something regarding the deadlines”.
Cover: A screen grab from the Russian TV station, Rossiya 1, showing the supposedly leaked preliminary list of the countries that are “unfriendly” towards Russia.