“Again and again Russia tries to secretly employ intelligence officers as diplomats in the Netherlands. At the same time, Russia refuses to issue visas to Dutch diplomats to staff the Consulate General in St. Petersburg and the embassy in Moscow. This is unacceptable and has led to an unstable situation”
This decision is quite justified if one understands that approximately one-third of the staff of each embassy are members of the security services: the GRU (former Main Intelligence Directorate, now General Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces – military intelligence), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the fifth service of the FSB. But ordinary diplomats should also be added to them.
The government has therefore decided that the Russian embassy in The Hague cannot have more diplomats than the Dutch embassy in Moscow.
“Thus, several Russian diplomats will have to leave the Netherlands. The Dutch Consulate General in St Petersburg will have to close temporarily due to staff shortages. The government has also decided that the Russian trade mission in Amsterdam should be closed,” the statement said.
“Despite numerous attempts by the Netherlands to find a solution, Russia continues to try to get intelligence officers in the Netherlands under diplomatic cover. We cannot and will not allow this to happen. At the same time, it is important that embassies remain open as a channel of communication, even now that relations with Russia are more difficult than ever,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra.
Russian diplomats who cannot stay must leave the Netherlands within two weeks. The Russian trade mission in Amsterdam is to be closed from 21 February.
The Dutch Consulate General in St Petersburg will close on 20 February. This means, among other things, that Dutch citizens and organizations will no longer be assisted from St Petersburg. The Dutch embassy in Moscow will remain open.
Negotiations on visas for diplomats have been ongoing for almost a year. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Netherlands expelled 17 Russian spies in March 2022. Russia responded by expelling 15 Dutch diplomats. Since then there have been talks about the deployment of new diplomats from both sides.
The Dutch ambassador was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday because of an investigation that suggested that the decision to supply Buk surface-to-air missile launchers to DPR fighters was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin.