Baltic states, Russia remove ambassadors in diplomatic crisis

Estonia and Latvia, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union, asked their Russian ambassadors to leave after Moscow said it was downgrading diplomatic relations with Estonia, accusing it of “total Russophobia”.

Estonia, Latvia and its Baltic neighbor Lithuania are among a group of NATO allies who strongly advocate that Germany supply its Leopard main battle tanks to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion.

Russia’s foreign ministry said it had told Estonia’s envoy he was due to leave next month, and that the two countries would be represented in each other’s capitals by an acting chargé d’affaires instead of an ambassador.

Estonia responded in kind, telling the Russian ambassador to leave by February 7, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (pictured) said.

“We will continue to support Ukraine as Russia plans large-scale attacks, and we call on other like-minded countries to increase their assistance to Ukraine,” Reinsalu said in a statement.

Latvia, in solidarity with Estonia, told Moscow‘s envoy to leave by February 27, according to a tweet from Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics. Both countries have said they are downgrading their diplomatic ties with Russia to chargé d’affaires level.

Lithuania expelled the Russian envoy in April and downgraded the diplomatic mission after Ukraine accused Russian forces of killing civilians in the town of Bucha.

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Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News