Berlin is ordering 4 of the 5 Russian consulates in Germany to shut after Moscow restricted the variety of German diplomatic workers allowed in Russia, the most recent in an escalating tit-for-tat diplomatic dispute between the 2 international locations.
The Russian International Ministry had been informed to begin shutting down its consulates in Germany instantly and should end by the tip of the yr, Christofer Burger, a spokesman for Germany’s International Ministry, mentioned at a information convention on Wednesday.
One Russian consulate and the Russian Embassy in Berlin might be allowed to stay open. Russia at present operates consulates in Bonn, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig and Munich. It isn’t clear which of the 5 will stay open.
The transfer comes after a collection of reciprocal expulsions which have whittled diplomatic workers in each international locations to the bone — a far cry from the shut diplomatic relations they shared earlier than Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine final yr.
In April, Germany expelled a variety of Russian diplomats it suspected of being spies, a transfer that got here after a Russian mole was present in Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service.
Russia’s International Ministry retaliated by expelling 20 German diplomats.
Berlin mentioned Wednesday that it was compelled to shut German consulates in Kaliningrad, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg after Russia introduced final weekend that it will permit solely 350 German residents to work at diplomatic posts in Russia. In addition to diplomats and embassy workers, Russia additionally considers Germans working at German cultural establishments — just like the Goethe Institute — to be a part of that quantity.
“With this, the Russian authorities has taken a step of escalation, and this unjustified choice forces the federal authorities to make a really important minimize in all areas of its presence in Russia,” Mr. Burger mentioned.
He added that with the most recent transfer, the German authorities thought-about the affair closed as a result of “personnel and structural parity” within the two international locations’ diplomatic presence had been reached.
The German Embassy in Moscow and a consulate in St. Petersburg will stay staffed.