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Russia expels diplomats from Belgium and the Netherlands

Russia has expelled diplomats from the Netherlands and Belgium, the Russian foreign ministry announced Tuesday.

The envoys were summoned to the ministry and told they must leave Russia within two weeks. Fifteen Dutch diplomats have been declared persona non grata while 12 Belgian diplomats have been expelled, the Belgian foreign ministry confirmed to POLITICO.

The expulsion covers two-thirds of the Belgian diplomatic staff in Russia. The Belgian embassy is still running, however, but with limited capacity. A spokesperson for the Belgian foreign ministry said Belgian diplomats always respected their diplomatic duties with regards to the Vienna Convention, unlike the Russian diplomats expelled from the country last month. In a statement, the foreign ministry said it “regretted” the decision which it said further isolates Russia diplomatically.

The ambassador of Luxembourg to Russia was also summoned to the foreign ministry following the expulsion of a Russian diplomat by the Grand Duchy a couple of weeks ago. One Luxembourgish diplomatic employee was declared persona non grata but has not yet been expelled.

Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a press release that The Hague “regretted” the Russian step, while adding that he was expecting such a move.

Earlier this month, Moscow also expelled diplomats from the EU mission to Russia.

The moves from Moscow are a retaliation following a coordinated expulsion of Russian officials by EU countries at the end of March.

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