23 Jan 2023 15:21

Russian ambassador must leave Estonia on Feb 7, simultaneously with Estonian ambassador's departure from Russia - Estonian FM

TALLINN. Jan 23 (Interfax) - Estonia will take Russia's decision to downgrade diplomatic representation into account but will stick to the parity principle, which means that the Russian ambassador must leave Estonia on February 7, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said.

"Estonia takes into account today's decision of Russia to downgrade its diplomatic representation to the charge d'affaires ad interim. The relations between Estonia and Russia are based on the principle of parity, and we will not deviate from it. This means that the Russian ambassador in Tallinn will leave simultaneously with the Estonian ambassador, on February 7," says a commentary by the Estonian foreign minister obtained by Interfax.

"The steps taken by Russia do not hinder our comprehensive assistance to Ukraine, which has been fighting for its sovereignty and security of us all for almost a year," Reinsalu said. Estonia urges like-minded countries to increase assistance to Ukraine, he said.

Estonia said on January 11 that Russia should cap personnel of its embassy in Tallinn to the level of diplomatic and seconded personnel of the Estonian embassy in Moscow by February 1, 2023. Currently, Estonia has eight diplomatic and 15 seconded administrative, technical and service employees in Moscow. The Russian embassy in Tallinn has 21 diplomats and 23 seconded employees without a diplomatic status on it staff.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Estonian Ambassador Margus Laidre on January 23 to express a strong protest against Estonia's actions. The ambassador was ordered to leave Russia on February 7, 2023. The level of diplomatic relations was downgraded to charge d'affaires ad interim.