Russia expels 34 french diplomats: Foreign Ministry

Russia expelled 34 French diplomats on Wednesday in revenge for France’s expulsion of 41 Russians in April, following Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

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Moscow announced on Wednesday that it was expelling 34 “employees of French diplomatic missions”. It was after Russian diplomats being expelled from France as part of a unified European response to Russia’s operation in Ukraine.

“The persona non grata status of 34 workers of French diplomatic missions in Russia has been proclaimed,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.  They also added that they had two weeks to leave the country.

The news came after Moscow summoned France’s ambassador to Russia, Pierre Lev. They told him that the expulsion of 41 Russian diplomatic personnel was a “provocative and baseless move,”.

Serious damage to Russia-France relationship

“It has been stressed that this step causes serious damage to Russian-French relations and constructive bilateral cooperation,” the foreign ministry said.

France “strongly condemns” the expulsion of 34 of its diplomats by Russia, the foreign ministry in Paris said for its part.

The ministry stated in a statement that “the activity of the diplomats and personnel at (France’s) embassy in Russia. It takes place fully within the framework of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations,”. They further added that the move had “no logical basis.”

In April, though, Paris evacuated Russian personnel on suspicion of being spies. Initially, French President Emmanuel Macron spearheaded diplomatic outreach to the Kremlin in response to Moscow’s military assault in Ukraine.

But this meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin have dwindled. The overt French military assistance for Ukraine has intensified in recent months.