The Netherlands expels a number of Russian diplomats from the country. Minister Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs has decided to do so because Russia will not stop secretly placing intelligence officers as diplomats. Hoekstra speaks of “a very significant step”.
The cabinet will not allow more diplomats to work at the Russian embassy in The Hague than at the Dutch embassy in Moscow. Minister Hoekstra thinks that about ten Russian embassy employees will have to leave.
The Russian diplomats must leave the country within two weeks. The Russian trade office in Amsterdam will also close from Tuesday. In addition, the Dutch consulate-general in Saint Petersburg will be closed from Monday. According to Hoekstra, Russia is delaying issuing visas to Dutch diplomats.
According to Hoekstra, numerous attempts have been made to find a solution. “Russia continues to delay the matter and that is unacceptable,” said the foreign minister. “We’re in charge here. They’re not.”
The Dutch embassy in Moscow will remain open. The Netherlands considers it important not to close these. “It is important to keep the embassies open as a channel of communication, even now that relations with Russia are more difficult than ever.”
Previously expelled diplomats
A year ago, the Netherlands also expelled a group of Russian officials for espionage. At that time, it concerned seventeen diplomats. According to intelligence services AIVD and MIVD, they were in fact spies.
According to Hoekstra, the current step is comparable to the situation last year. “It’s a very significant step.”
Other European countries then also expelled diplomats. In Belgium, 21 Russians were suspected of espionage, four in Ireland and one in the Czech Republic. Details about what the Russians were suspected of were not reported at the time.
After the expulsion, there were still 58 accredited Russian diplomats left in the Netherlands at the time. It is unclear how many there are currently.
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