Russia closes consulate in Gothenburg and expels Swedish diplomats from Russia

Russia is closing its consulate in Gothenburg. The reason is said to be Sweden’s “course of confrontation” with Russia. Five Swedish diplomats will also be expelled from Russia.

“The Russian announcement is very regrettable,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said, as reporter by the local media GP.

Photo: A protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine organized outside the consulate. Credit: ANNACARIN ISAKSSON

Russian consulate to halt operations on September 1

Russia is closing the consulate at Sankt Sigfrid’s Plan in Gothenburg. The reason is said to be Sweden’s “course of confrontation” with Russia and an ongoing so-called “Russophobic campaign”.

Operations at the Russian consulate in Gothenburg will end on September 1.

The Russian Tass propaganda news agency reports that Swedish Ambassador Malena Mård was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday morning.

Five Swedish diplomats were expelled from Russia

At the same time, five Swedish diplomats were expelled from Russia and the license of the Swedish Consulate General in St. Petersburg was revoked, also from September 1.

“The Swedish ambassador was informed that the Russian side, as a response, decided to declare five Swedish diplomats persona non grata, including three employees of the Swedish Embassy in Moscow,” the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote, according to Tass.

Sweden expelled five Russian diplomats

On April 25, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström announced in an interview with SVT that five Russian diplomats would be expelled from Sweden. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zacharova said that this was part of a “growing anti-Russian line” and warned that Russia would respond.

Now, the Russian Foreign Ministry says relations with Sweden are “at a lower level than ever” and describes the Swedish action as “an openly hostile step by Stockholm”, reports Russian Kommersant.

Three days after the Swedish Foreign Minister’s statement, the Russian Consul General in Gothenburg, Anastasia Fedorova, left Sweden and thanked her colleagues in an email, according to GP.

“It is time for me to say goodbye”

“Time passes quickly, and it is time for me to say goodbye to all of you. My mission here is completed, and I am on my way home to Russia. I wish you all prosperity, optimism, wisdom and good health. I hope to meet you in Moscow at some point.”

The Russian Consulate did not want to answer GP’s questions about the Consul General’s return home. The Swedish MFA also replied, “No comments”.

Billström: “It is very regrettable”

The Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed to GP that the five diplomats being expelled are a response from Russia to Sweden’s decision in April to remove five officials from the Russian embassy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also confirmed the closure of the consulates in St. Petersburg and Gothenburg.

“The background to the expulsion of the Russian officials in April was that they had engaged in activities incompatible with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in an email.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström commented in a statement.

“The Russian announcement is very regrettable. Russia has chosen to expel Swedish diplomats who have acted within the framework of the Vienna Convention and conducted normal diplomatic activities in Russia”, Tobias Billström stated.

“We also deeply regret the Russian announcement about the Consulate General in St. Petersburg. The consulate has been a driving force in bilateral people-to-people cooperation between Russia and Sweden in a broad sense. Today’s decision is, therefore, a further confirmation of the hostile political developments in Russia and the country’s international isolation.”

Read also: Media reveal names of dozens of diplomats in Scandinavian countries who spied for Putin

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