Russia’s Foreign Ministry has reported downgrading diplomatic level with Estonia and expelling the Estonian ambassador out of the country, the agency’s Telegram channel says.
The formal reason behind this move was said to be “reduction in the size of the Russian Embassy in Tallinn”. This is the first time Russia has expelled a foreign ambassador since starting the Ukraine War last February.
The Estonian Foreign Ministry responded with the same move, expelling the Russian ambassador Vladimir Lipaev. He must leave the country before 7 February, the same date his Estonian counterpart must leave Moscow.
Margus Laidre, the Estonian ambassador to Russia, will now be replaced with a chargé d’affaires, a diplomat of a lower rank acting in his place; the same measure will be implemented for the Russian mission to Estonia. Russia blames Estonia for the situation: "In recent years, the Estonian leadership has purposefully destroyed the entire range of relations with Russia. Total Russophobia and the cultivation of hostility towards our country have been elevated by Tallinn to the rank of state policy.”
Latvia has announced it will also downgrade its diplomatic relationship with Russia in solidarity with Estonia starting 24 February.