Ambassador: Leaving Moscow a blow, nothing replaces being on location

Moscow. Source: SCANPIX/AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Margus Laidre, Estonia's ambassador to Moscow who will have to leave the Russian Federation soon, told ERR that Russia's decision is a blow first and foremost to collection of information. Lowering the level of diplomatic representation will have little effect on practical terms and consular efforts, the outgoing ambassador suggested.

"It is definitely a blow, as the ambassador's position alone gives them better access to sources of information than lower ranking diplomats. Many EU and NATO countries are dispatching new ambassadors [to Russia] precisely to be represented on the highest possible level in the conditions of war, to monitor the situation on location and collect information," Laidre told ERR.

"While we can suggest that today's information society makes it possible to learn of developments from 1,000 kilometers away, the traditional aspect of diplomacy, being in the same place, breathing the same air and drinking the same water, cannot be replaced. And to retain that level of perception, countries are seeking to maintain a high level of diplomatic presence," he commented.

That said, Laidre admitted that the level of diplomatic representation of other countries will also depend on developments in Ukraine.

The ambassador emphasized that Russia's step does not amount to his expulsion. "It is not expulsion. It is a request to leave because the level of diplomatic contacts is being reduced. Estonia will in the future have a charge d'affaires ad interim in place of an ambassador in Moscow," he said.

Laidre also suggested that this will have little practical effect for ordinary people.

"People, especially Estonian citizens, in Moscow will still be able to access consular services at the embassy. As the rest of our Moscow staff will remain in place," Laidre remarked.

"In other words, Moscow has accepted our demand of representational parity in both capitals. There will be the same number of diplomats and technical staff in Tallinn and Moscow now," he explained.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it summoned Estonian Ambassador Margus Laidre on Monday and has given him until February 7 to leave the country.


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Marcus Turovski

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