Russia says expelled Estonian diplomat enquiring about its Arctic strategy
An Estonian diplomat based in St. Petersburg who was expelled from Russia by authorities in that country last month had been discussing sensitive information regarding Russia's Arctic policy, the Federal Security Service (FSB) says. The FSB released footage in what it calls retaliation for Estonia's expulsion of a Russian diplomat, a week after the diplomat, Mart Lätte, was sent out of Russia on July 7.
The FSB said Tuesday that: "It was established that the Estonian diplomat had had several meetings with that Russian," BNS reports, quoting Russian news wire Interfax.
"During the meetings [the consul] showed interest in obtaining, through him, information about Russia's plans in the Arctic," the statement continued.
Lätte was one of three Estonian consuls based in St. Petersburg, and was ejected from the country on July 7. Estonia responded in kind on July 15, sending away one Russian diplomat.
The FSB says it has now issued footage of Lätte meeting the individual referred to above in retaliation for the July 15 expulsion.
The FSB says Lätte and the unnamed individual were talking about Russia's Arctic policy, while subsequent footage shows Lätte being apprehended and taken away by FSB operatives, with one officer proclaiming that: "I now declare that you were apprehended while obtaining information of a closed nature regarding the security of the Russian Federation," BNS reports.
Lätte was taken to the FSB Directorate for St. Petersburg and Leningrad region.
Russia also announced Tuesday it would be declaring another Estonian diplomat, this time at the embassy in Moscow, persona non grata in preparation for their ejection from the country.
The FSB said that: "In response to the declaration of Mart Lätte persona non grata, the Estonian Foreign Ministry expelled, for no reason whatsoever, the third secretary of the Russian Embassy to Estonia. In response to the unfriendly actions of the Estonian side, which expelled the Russian diplomat from Estonia for no reason, on August 3, 2021 the Russian Foreign Ministry declared an Estonian embassy official persona non grata."
Estonia was briefly on Russia's list of "unfriendly states" in May, following an earlier expulsion of a Russian diplomat in April, in solidarity with the Czech Republic.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte