First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Vladimir Titov called the recent expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Estonia a provocation and said that Moscow will respond based on a reciprocity principle.
"We have already issued a statement saying that it is an act of provocation on the part of the Estonian authorities, it will not be left without a response, and, as you know, the principle of reciprocity is always used in relations between states," Interfax reported Titov as telling reporters in Moscow on Monday.
It was announced on Friday afternoon that Estonia had decided to expel two Russian diplomats, Russian Consul General in Narva Dmitry Kazennov and consul Andrey Surgaev from Estonia.
Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Sandra Kamilova confirmed to BNS that such an incident had indeed taken place, however she declined to provide additional comments on the matter. According to the Estonian international Security Service (ISS), they are aware of the incident.
According to diplomatic practice, a country whose representatives are asked to leave the country will answer by expelling in turn the other country's diplomats in the same capacity.
A representative of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday declined to comment on the possibility of Estonian diplomats being asked to leave Russia.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday evening that the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Estonia was a provocative and unwarranted act which would not go unanswered by Moscow.
Russian Ambassador to Estonia Alexander Petrov told the Estonian Russian-language news channel TV N on Monday that the two diplomats being expelled must leave Estonia by the end of May.
"The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told us that the Consul General in Narva and his deputy are being declared persona non grata and they must leave the country by the end of the month," Petrov said. "In accordance with diplomatic practice, the motives of such a step will not be explained. Therefore we have nothing left to do other than to express regret and treat it as a publicly unfriendly act which will have a negative impact on bilateral relations."
Sources of ERR's Russian-language television channel ETV+ have claimed that the reason behind the expulsion of the two Russian diplomats may not be espionage, as is often believed in such cases, but rather conduct unsuitable for a diplomat.
The sources claimed that Kazennov and Surgaev recently met with Kiviõli mayor Nikolai Vojekin and the attitude of the diplomats toward the Estonian official may have been disrespectful. The conversation was recorded and may have been the primary reason behind the diplomats' expulsion from Estonia.
Editor: Aili Vahtla