Russia has expelled two Irish diplomats from the country.
It comes after Ireland last month expelled four Russian diplomats suspected of espionage from the country’s embassy on Orwell Road in Dublin.
In a statement tonight, the Foreign Secretary said the expulsions of Irish diplomats were unjustified.
“The Ambassador of Ireland to the Russian Federation was called to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow this afternoon and informed that two diplomats from our Embassy in Moscow have been ordered to leave the country,” he said.
“There is no justification for this measure. The staff of the Embassy of Ireland in Moscow shall not have nor exercise any duties or functions incompatible with their diplomatic status.
“This decision to downsize our relatively small embassy in Moscow will significantly limit our ability to provide services to our citizens in Russia and to maintain diplomatic channels of communication with the Russian Federation.”
The move takes place after the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Dáil, thanking Ireland for its help to his country but urging the government to use its influence to urge EU partners to impose even tougher sanctions on Russia.
In a post on Twitter tonight, the Russian Embassy in Ireland said Irish Ambassador Brian McElduff had been called in to hear their protests over what it called “unfounded moves”.
“On April 7 @MID_RF summoned the Irish Ambassador to Moscow, B. McElduff. He was protested in relation to the measures taken in March this year.”
“Baseless moves by the Irish authorities to demand the departure of four staff members @Rus_Emb_Ireland from the country.”
Russia’s TASS news agency reported that Ambassador McElduff was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, where he was briefed on Moscow’s decision to expel “several Irish embassy staff in response to appropriate action from Dublin”.
In a statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said strong protest was expressed in connection with “the unkind and groundless steps taken by the Irish authorities in March to demand the departure of four employees of the Russian embassy in Dublin.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the ambassador had been briefed on “our respective retaliatory actions against a number of diplomats working at the Irish embassy in Moscow.”
In March, four senior Russian embassy officials were ordered to leave the state for “security reasons”.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin made the announcement in the Dáil on March 29 after Russian Ambassador Yuriy Filatov was invited to Iveagh House to meet Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney.
Mr. Martin surprised the TDs when he explained: “Following the 1961 Vienna Convention, four senior officials at the Russian embassy were ordered to leave the state – because their activities were not in line with international standards of diplomatic conduct.”
Such phraseology is usually recognized as code for engaging in espionage activities.
Many European countries have expelled Russian diplomats, which has turned into a spate of expulsions after the bloody invasion of Russia Ukraine.
The Irish government has resisted opposition calls to expel other Russian diplomats, including Ambassador Yuriy Filatov, who right before the war insisted no invasion was imminent. The government says this is because it needs to maintain a diplomatic presence in Russia to ensure the safety of Irish citizens still in the region.
Days after the four Russian officers left Ireland, Mr Coveney said the government would consider further expulsions.
The south Dublin embassy has become the focus of Irish anger over the war waged by Vladimir Putin.
Since the beginning of the invasion, protests have taken place across the city and country, with both Irish people and Ukrainians living in Ireland gathering to voice their outcry at the war.
Earlier this week it emerged that the Russian embassy was facing fuel shortages.
Diplomats have complained that Irish oil companies have refused to deliver supplies to their Dublin property because of the invasion of Ukraine.
Last month a man was charged with vandalism and dangerous driving after his truck rammed the embassy gates.
Independent.ie has reached out to the Russian Embassy in Dublin and the Irish Embassy in Moscow for comment.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/moscow-expels-two-irish-diplomats-in-retaliation-after-ireland-sent-four-russian-embassy-staff-home-41531335.html Moscow expels two Irish diplomats in retaliation after Ireland sent four Russian embassy employees home