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Russia, Estonia expel each other’s ambassadors due to ‘destroyed relations’
Russia has summoned Estonian Ambassador Margus Laidre, ordering him to leave the country by Feb. 7, followed by Estonia making the same move under "the principle of parity," the Associated Press reported, citing the countries' foreign ministries.
According to the AP, the diplomatic missions in Russia and Estonia will be headed by temporary charges d'affaires, namely subordinate diplomats substituting for absent ambassadors.
Russian Foreign Ministry wrote in its statement that the ambassador's expulsion was a response to Estonia's "new unfriendly step to radically reduce the size of the Russian Embassy in Tallinn." Russian officials added that "the Estonian leadership has purposefully destroyed the entire range of relations with Russia."
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics announced on Jan. 23 that his country would also downgrade diplomatic relations with Russia "in solidarity with Estonia." He added that Latvia is "demanding Russia to act accordingly."
Earlier in January, Estonia decided to cut down the number of employees at the Russian embassy in Tallinn. From Feb. 1, only eight diplomats and 15 administrative, technical, and service staff members will be able to work in the country.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said, cited by the AP, that his country had reduced its bilateral relations with Moscow "to the absolute minimum" since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine started on Feb. 24.
On Jan. 19, the Estonian government announced it would provide Ukraine with a record military aid package worth 113 million euros, increasing its total military assistance to 370 million euros which is more than 1% of Estonian GDP.
The package will include all the 155 mm howitzers Estonia has, Ukraine's General Staff reported, citing Estonian Ambassador Kaimo Kuusk.
Estonia has been one of Ukraine's biggest supporters since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion. The Estonian parliament condemned Russia's illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories and voted to declare Russia "a terrorist regime" on Oct. 18.