Russia has closed consulates of Baltic states and expelled diplomats in a retaliatory move, the country’s Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday.
In a statement, the ministry announced the decision to close the Latvian consulates in Saint Petersburg and Pskov, Estonia’s consulate in Saint Petersburg and its office in Pskov, and the Lithuanian consulate in Saint Petersburg.
The ministry said all diplomats of the consulates, including their heads, are declared “persona non grata,” adding that employees of administrative and technical staff who are not citizens of Russia are "unacceptable."
"We demanded that all the mentioned persons leave the territory of the Russian Federation within the same time interval that was given for the departure of employees of Russian consular missions from these countries," the ministry said.
On April 5, Latvia closed the Russian consulates in the cities of Liepaja and Daugavpils and expelled 13 diplomats, Estonia closed the Russian consulate in Narva and the Russian consular department in Tartu and declared 14 Russians citizens, including seven diplomats, “persona non grata.” Lithuania also closed the Russian consulate on April 4.
The Baltic states explained their move as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine and protests against the Russian-Ukraine war.
At least 2,224 civilians have been killed and 2,897 injured in Ukraine so far in the war, according to UN estimates, with the true figure believed to be much higher.
More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with over 7 million more internally displaced, said the UN refugee agency.