Hundreds of German civil servants forced to leave Russia

May 28, 2023

Berlin [Germany], May 28: Several hundred German civil servants, including diplomats, teachers and staff working for a cultural organization will have to leave Russia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry decided in April to introduce a cap on the number of staff at German missions abroad and intermediary organizations in Russia, in response to Berlin's decision to expel a number of Russian intelligence officers, the German Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, following a report.
"This limit, set by Russia from the beginning of June, requires a major cut in all areas of our presence in Russia," the ministry said on Saturday.
It was a "unilateral, unjustified and incomprehensible decision" by Russia, the ministry said. It did not specify the exact number of staff affected.
At the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed this as a "new lie" from Berlin. She said Russia was merely reacting to actions taken by the German side. "There are a number of steps against Russia, Russophobic content," she told DPA.
She also accused Germany of acting covertly. Germany initially denied expelling dozens of Russian diplomats earlier this year. In response, Moscow expelled more than 20 German diplomats in April.
At the time, Zakharova spoke of a reaction to "hostile actions" by Berlin and announced that the number of staff in German representations in Russia would be limited.
According to the SüddeutscheZeitung newspaper, the move affects a low to mid three-digit number of diplomats, but above all the step hits cultural mediators such as teachers at the German school in Moscow and a considerable number of staff at the Goethe Institute cultural organization.
Germany and Russia have repeatedly expelled each other's diplomats at times of greater tensions.
That means the representations have already been severely thinned out, services for German citizens have been reduced or are associated with longer waiting times for documents to be issued, for example.
The Kremlin's war on ukraine led to a significant deterioration in the situation.
"In view of this unilateral, unjustified and incomprehensible decision, the Federal Government is now concerned with ensuring a minimum presence of intermediaries in Russia while also maintaining a diplomatic presence," the ministry said.
This is only possible if "the number of staff in all areas is reduced, in some cases sharply."
With regard to the upper limit for the Russian presence in Germany, the government will ensure that there is a real balance in practice, it said.
Source: Qatar Tribune