Netherlands orders expulsion of Russian diplomats
Dutch government said it will close its consulate general in St. Petersburg and the Russian Trade Office in Amsterdam.
The Dutch government on Saturday ordered the expulsion of several Russian diplomats over Russia’s “continued attempts to place intelligence officers into the Netherlands under diplomatic cover.”
The Netherlands also said it will close its consulate general in St. Petersburg on Monday and the Russian trade office in Amsterdam by Tuesday.
The moves are the latest development in ongoing negotiations over visas for diplomats: The Netherlands expelled 17 Russian diplomats last March over espionage concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — after which Russia expelled 15 Dutch diplomats.
“Negotiations with Russia over the terms of sending diplomats back and forth to diplomatic posts have so far come to nothing,” the government said in a statement Saturday. “Russia keeps trying to surreptitiously place intelligence officers in the Netherlands as diplomats. At the same time, Russia refuses to issue visas for Dutch diplomats to staff the consulate general in St. Petersburg and the embassy in Moscow.”
It described the situation as “unacceptable” and “untenable.” The Dutch government added that it was “important to keep the embassies open as a communication channel, even now that relations with Russia are more difficult than ever.”
The diplomats now have two weeks to leave the country.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it will “give an appropriate response” to the Dutch decision, according to a report by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.