After reports of 'mass expulsion' of Russian diplomats from Germany, in a tit-for-tat move, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova announced that Moscow was expelling more than 20 German diplomats, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
A ministry statement said that “as a reaction to the hostile actions of Berlin,” Russia decided to “mirror” the expulsions by Germany and “significantly limit” the maximum number of staff at German diplomatic missions in Russia.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Russia is expelling more than 20 German diplomats, Russian state media reported, but didn't give a precise number.
Germany's Foreign Ministry said it took note of the comments. It said that the German government and Russia had been in contact in recent weeks on “questions regarding the staffing of the respective diplomatic missions" and that a flight on Saturday took place in that context. It didn't elaborate.
According to a report by Reuters, the German ministry declined to say how many Russian diplomats had left.
Relations between Russia and Germany, which used to be the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas, have fallen apart since Moscow sent its armed forces into Ukraine in February 2022 and the West responded with sanctions and with weapons for Ukraine, the Reuters report noted.
Commenting on Germany's expulsions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, "We strongly condemn these actions by Berlin, which continues to demonstratively destroy the entire array of Russian-German relations," according to the Reuters report.
It said its own expulsions were "reciprocal", and that it would significantly limit the maximum number of staff at German diplomatic missions, adding that Germany's ambassador had been told of the moves at talks on April 5, as per the report.
Germany's Bild daily reported that 34 of the 90 German diplomats remaining in Moscow had been told to leave Russia.
A year ago too, Russia expelled 40 German diplomats after Germany sent home the same number of Russians, Bloomberg reported. In the month of February, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, almost every European country expelled some Russian diplomats.
(With inputs from AP)