MOSCOW: Russia said today it would shut Sweden’s consulate in St Petersburg and its own mission in Sweden’s second-biggest city Gothenburg, and expelled five Swedish diplomats in a tit-for-tat move after Stockholm expelled five Russians last month.
Stockholm said last month it had expelled the diplomats over espionage concerns. The Russian foreign ministry called the expulsions an “openly hostile step”.
It said it had withdrawn its consent for the Swedish consulate in St Petersburg from September.
Swedish foreign minister Tobias Billstrom said in a statement the news was “very regrettable” and “further confirmation of the negative political development in Russia and the country’s international isolation”.
“Russia has chosen to expel Swedish diplomats who acted within the framework of the Vienna Convention and conducted customary diplomatic activities in Russia. We also deeply regret the Russian announcement about the consulate-general in St Petersburg,” he said.
Relations between the two countries have worsened since Sweden last year announced its intention to join Nato following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian statement said ties had “reached an unprecedented low”.