Russia reduces embassy staff to required level

The newly renovated Estonian Embassy in Moscow.
The newly renovated Estonian Embassy in Moscow. Source: KAOS Arhitektid

The Russian Federation has reduced the staff in its embassy in Tallinn to the required level. Both countries' ambassadors left on Tuesday.

"The embassy of the Russian Federation has complied with the conditions in the Estonian Foreign Ministry's note," the latter's press representative Anna Tisler-Lavrentjev told ERR.

She said that Russia was required to reduce embassy staff to eight diplomats and 15 administrative, technical and service personnel by February 1. Russian Ambassador Vladimir Lipayev left Estonia on Tuesday.

Estonian Ambassador Margus Laidre left Moscow on Tuesday, Tisler-Lavrentjev said, adding that Laidre will continue working for the foreign service.

Estonia's ambassador to Moscow Margus Laidre. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on January 11 that it requires Russia to cut embassy staff in Tallinn to achieve parity with the number of people working in the Estonian embassy in Moscow. Russia was required to cut 13 diplomats and eight technical staff.

On January 23, Russia responded by summoning the Estonian ambassador and asking him to leave Moscow by February 7, also announcing it would be recalling its ambassador in Tallinn.

Margus Laidre served as ambassador to Moscow since October 2018. Russian Ambassador Vladimir Lipayev started in February last year, immediately before the start of the Ukraine war.

Latvia decided to lower the level of diplomatic relations with Russia following Estonia's move, while Lithuania had already done so previously.

Estonia has expelled three Russian diplomats since Russia's invasion of Ukraine and dozens more diplomatic workers have been asked to leave.

Estonia and Belarus also reached an agreement last year to reduce the number of staff in Tallinn and Minsk to a minimum.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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