Berlin closes four Russian consulates, Moscow denounces a "provocation"


Berlin closes four Russian consulates, Moscow denounces a "provocation"

Reprisals. A few days after suffering a restriction of its diplomatic representation in Russia, Germany decided to do the same for Moscow. On Wednesday May 31, the German Foreign Minister announced the closure of four of the five Russian consulates present in the country. "In order to ensure a balance of mutual presences both at the level of personnel and structures, we have decided to withdraw the authorization to operate four of the five Russian consulates general operated in Germany, this was communicated today to the Ministry Foreign Ministry,” a spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry said at a regular press conference.

Only the fifth consulate and the Russian embassy in Berlin will thus be able to continue to operate. Berlin has also decided to close three of its own consulates in Russia in November – Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.

Russia has castigated Berlin's decision and denounces a "provocation" which will not go unanswered from Moscow. "Berlin should have little doubt that these thoughtless provocative acts will not remain without our just response," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

This German announcement follows the recent decision by the Russian authorities to drastically reduce, as of June, the number of people that Germany can send or employ in Russia in its embassy or in active institutions, in particular in the fields of culture and education. Several hundred people are affected by this sanction, including officials from the embassy and consulate, but above all employees of the Goethe cultural institute in the country, of the German school, of kindergartens, or even teachers working in Russian schools.

"The Russian government has thus taken a step towards escalation and this unjustified decision forces the (German) government to make very significant cuts in all areas of its presence in Russia," explained the spokesperson for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs.

In April, Moscow had already announced the expulsion of around twenty German diplomats, in retaliation for a similar measure taken by Berlin. The moves come as bilateral relations between Moscow and Berlin, once close, are at an all-time low.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced Germany into a painful and spectacular diplomatic and economic about-face after having, for decades, bet in these two areas on a rapprochement with Russia. Moscow was, before the invasion of Ukraine, Germany's main gas supplier and one of its major oil suppliers. Germany cut off its supplies and became one of Kiev's main arms suppliers, as well as one of its biggest financial backers.