Three Norwegian diplomats working at Norway’s embassy in Moscow have been declared unwelcome in Russia. Their looming expulsion comes as a response to Norway’s decision to send three Russian diplomats packing earlier this month.
“We’re not surprised,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Wednesday afternoon. Norway expelled three Russian diplomats on April 6 and has expected retaliation.
“Like other European countries and allies, we have cut contact with Russian authorities to a minimum,” Huitfeldt wrote in her comments to NRK. “We will protect cooperation and channels that have to do with safety and security. The same will apply to security of sustainable management in our neighbouring areas.”
Huitfeldt claimed that the Norwegians now being sent back to Norway had conducted “normal diplomatic work” in Russia. She added that Russia’s war on Ukraine, however, has had consequences for relations between Russia and Norway, and that Norway “will continue to stand together with our close allies and partners against Russia’s aggression and in support of Ukraine.”
Russia claimed that Norway’s “unfriendly” position towards Russia at present has damaged the bilateral relation between Norway and Russia. Norway had tied its own expulsions of Russian diplomats to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
NRK reported that Norway’s ambassador to Russia, Rune Reasland, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry at noon on Wednesday and handed a formal protest over Norway’s decision to send three of its diplomats home. Russia also objected to Norway’s military assistance to Ukraine and to how Norway has been defending Ukraine.
A total of 25 Norwegian diplomats have been working at the embassy in Moscow, with the expulsions thus cutting staffing by just over 10 percent.
Russia also expelled four Swedish diplomats this week, three of whom worked at Sweden’s embassy in Moscow and one who was working at the Swedish consulate in St Petersburg.