Russia is expelling five Swedish diplomats and the Swedish consulate general in St Petersburg will have to cease operations as of September 1, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.
Swedish ambassador Malena Mård was informed of the expulsion and the measures were in response to the expulsion of five Russian diplomats in Sweden at the end of April, the ministry said.
Moscow said the expulsion of its diplomats was an “openly hostile step on the part of Stockholm” that further strained the two countries’ bilateral relationship. There was an “anti-Russian campaign” in Sweden, it added.
The Swedish government said it regretted the Russian move as the diplomats were engaged in normal diplomatic activities in Russia. The consulate general in St Petersburg was a driving force in the interpersonal cooperation between Russia and Sweden, said Foreign Minister Tobias Billström.
Billström also said the decision confirms Russia’s actions lead to further international isolation of the country.