Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that he would urge EU countries to adhere to the idea of parity in diplomatic relations with Russia, in which the number of diplomats in each country is equal.
Reinsalu told ERR, "Estonia will not back down from the principle of parity, which we have communicated to the Russian Federation."
This means that the Russian ambassador will leave Estonia by February 7 if the Estonian ambassador departs Russia, Reinsalu said.
The level of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Russia has been reduced to that of an interim deputy.
It is yet unclear whether a resident diplomat in Moscow will be appointed chargé d'affaires ad interim, a deputy temporarily acting for an absent head of mission, or if someone from Tallinn will be deployed there to fill this position, Reisalu said.
"This is a practical decision that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will make in the near future, but a chargé d'affaires ad interim will be definitely taking up these responsibilities in Moscow," he said.
ERR asked about the probability that the Estonian embassy in Moscow will stay empty. "Estonia adheres to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and all of our actions have been in compliance with that convention; we do not have any additional information from Russia on these matters," Reinsalu added.
Reinsalu said that he is currently at a meeting of European foreign ministers, where he will also brief his colleagues on Russia's decision. "I certainly encourage other countries to subscribe to the principle of parity set by Estonia," Reinsalu said.
In most European countries, the Russian embassy employs a disproportionately large number of people compared to the embassy of the same country in Russia.
"Russia's steps will not deter us from providing continued support to Ukraine, which has been fighting for its sovereignty and the security of us all for nearly a year now. We will continue to support Ukraine as Russia is planning large-scale attacks, and we call on other like-minded countries to increase their assistance to Ukraine," the ministry's press release states.
Editor: Kristina Kersa