Estonia removed from Kremlin list of 'unfriendly' states

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Russian Embassy on Pikk tänav in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Estonia is no longer on a list of countries deemed 'unfriendly' to Russia. Estonia was placed on the list, which was recently redacted down to two – the United States and the Czech Republic – during a diplomatic spat, while the Kremlin now says it is open to dialog.

Russia's government issued the decree Friday, signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, which included a list of "unfriendly countries which have committed unfriendly steps" against Russia, Russian citizens or Russian entities, with the two named as the U.S. and the Czech Republic.

Concrete implications for the two states include limitations on their embassies in hiring Russian citizens (which in the case of the U.S. is set at zero, while most consular services are only being provided by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on a temporary basis to July 16).

Estonia was placed on the original roster in late April, along with Latvia and Lithuania, the U.K., Georgia, Ukraine and Poland, all of which have also been removed from the list, plus the Czech Republic and the U.S., which have not.

Tensions mounted over claims that Russian secret service agents had been active in a 2014 explosion at an ammunition dump in the Czech Republic which killed two, while U.S.-Russia relations deteriorated with the entry into office of Joe Biden, who in March referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a "killer", during an interview with CNN.

Estonia expelled one Russian diplomat in late April in solidarity with the Czech Republic, as did Latvia and Lithuania (the latter expelled two). Less than a week later, the Russian Federation responded in kind and placed all three Baltic States on its list of "unfriendly" countries.

The developments also led to Russia officially pulling out of participation in this summer's Finno-Ugric conference in Tartu – an event to which Putin had previously been invited in person – while director of the Estonian Language Inspectorate (Keeleinspektsioon) Ilmar Tomusk was blacklisted by Russian authorities early on this month.

Concentration of Russian military forces close to the border with Ukraine has also been a factor.

Kremlin mouthpiece Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Moscow was ready for dialog, stressing that where there were once nine countries on the list of unfriendly states, at present there are only two (link in Russian).

Estonia's foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) recently called for other European countries to follow suit in Estonia's stance on Russia, while former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves told the German media in March that Europe should follow the Biden line in its dealings with Russia.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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