Moscow is working to significantly reduce the German presence on its territory, which means that hundreds of German officials and workers in German institutions in Russia will have to leave this country in the coming days or lose their jobs.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday that the Russian authorities have significantly reduced, as of June, the number of people that Germany can send or employ in Russia at its embassy or in public institutions, especially in the culture and education sectors.
The same source pointed out that hundreds of people are affected by this punitive measure, including employees of the embassy and consulate, in addition to employees of the Goethe Cultural Institute in the country, the German school, and even teachers working in Russian schools.
The Russian Foreign Ministry added that the procedure includes a similar number of Germans and Russian local employees, without being able to give specific numbers about one of these two categories.
The first batch will have to leave the country by June 1.
The source added that the Russians won’t be forced to do so, but will lose their job because German institutions will no longer have the right to employ them.
It was made clear that the first elements that were issued indicated that all employees would have to leave the country.
On the other hand the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “This is a unilateral, unjustified and incomprehensible step”.
In mid-April, Germany expelled a number of Russian diplomats to reduce the presence of the intelligence services, which prompted a response from Moscow, which expelled twenty German embassy employees.
In April, the Russian Foreign Ministry set a limit for the number of German diplomats and representatives of public institutions who allowed staying in Russia, according to what the German Foreign Ministry announced.
The source said, “This limit set by Russia for early June implies a significant reduction in all areas of German’s presence in Russia”.
In the past few weeks, the German authorities have sought to persuade the Russian Foreign Ministry to reverse its decision, but to no avail.
The relations between Germany and Russia, which were close in the past, have reached their lowest point.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine forced Germany to make a major and painful diplomatic and economic change after it had bet for decades on these two areas of rapprochement with Russia.
Before the invasion, Moscow was Germany’s most important supplier of gas and one of its most important suppliers of oil.
Germany stopped supplying energy and became one of Kiev’s main suppliers of weapons and at the same time one of its biggest financial backers.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, the pace of Russian espionage in Germany has increased at an unprecedented rate in the past few years, according to German intelligence services.