Russia is set to expel another Estonian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move which follows the expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Estonian in mid-July. The latter had been sent away as a result of that Russia's sending away an Estonian diplomat based in St. Petersburg, a week earlier.
Russia's foreign ministry summoned Estonia's ambassador in Moscow Margus Laidre, to inform him that an Estonian diplomat must leave the country in the next few days, Russian news agency Interfax reported Tuesday.
The Russian foreign ministry said that: "Laidre has received a diplomatic note stating that, on a reciprocal basis, an employee of the Estonian diplomatic mission in Moscow is to be declared persona non grata. That diplomat must leave the territory of the Russian Federation within a week."
The move follows last month's expulsion of Mart Lätte, on of three Estonian Consuls in St. Petersburg . Lätte was expelled after being charged with intelligence-gathering.
"On July 7, St. Petersburg Consul Mart Lätte was declared persona non grata, having been detained during an espionage operation. Estonia was warned that further escalation of the situation would lead to inevitable retaliation," the Russian foreign ministry statement continued.
Estonia responded reciprocally a week later.
"This plea was not taken into account and, on July 15, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared an employee of the Russian embassy persona non grata," Russia's foreign ministry added.
Estonia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told ERR that expelling Estonian diplomat is an unfortunate step and is one which does not foster diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"We are thoroughly considering our own follow-up activities," a foreign ministry spokesperson told ERR Tuesday.
Russia's ambassador to Estonia, Alexander Petrov, was summoned by the Estonian foreign ministry on July 15 and handed a diplomatic note which informed him that a Russian Embassy employee had been declared persona non grata.
This latest round of expulsions follows one which took place in April, prompted in support of the Czech Republic, which had ejected 18 Russian diplomats, accusing them of being secret agents with ties to a 2014 explosion at a munitions depot which killed two people.
Editor: Andrew Whyte