Russo-German relations are at a new low after the German government announced on Wednesday that Russia will have to close four out of its five consultants across Germany.
It's a tit-for-tat move after Moscow set a limit for the number of staff at the German Embassy and related bodies in Russia. The Kremlin said only 350 German diplomats could remain on its soil.
German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christofer Burger told reporters in Berlin that the measure was intended to create a “parity of personnel and structures” between the two countries.
Russia has consulates in Bonn, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig and Munich. Burger said Russia would be allowed to continue operating the embassy in Berlin and one further consulate after the end of the year.
The Russian government had recently said an upper limit of 350 German government officials, including those working in cultural bodies and schools, could remain in Russia. Burger said this meant Germany would have to shut its consulates in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Kaliningrad by November. Only the embassy in Moscow and the consulate in St Petersburg would remain open, he added.
Burger said Germany's counterstroke move was regrettable but added the war meant there was “simply no basis” for numerous bilateral activities between the two countries anymore.
“But it is the behaviour of the Russian side that has brought us into this situation.”
Burger said Germany’s decision to concentrate its remaining staff in the embassy and a key consulate would “preserve the diplomatic presence in Russia”.