So far, Russia and Germany have expelled diplomats to express their mutual protest. Now the federal government is going one step further and is closing almost all Russian consulates – as well as its own representations in Russia.
The federal government withdraws the license from four out of five Russian consulates general in Germany. This is a reaction to the decision by the government in Moscow to limit the number of German officials in Russia to 350, said a spokesman for the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin.
The deduction should therefore be completed by the end of the year. Russia will only be able to operate the embassy in Berlin and a consulate.
Germany is closing three of its own consulates
Germany itself is closing the general consulates in Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk because the Russian staffing restrictions mean that consular support is no longer possible there.
On Saturday it became known that numerous German civil servants had to leave Russia because Moscow had introduced an “upper limit” for staff. This should apply from the beginning of June. As the foreign office spokesman said, the “total German presence” in Russia will be limited to 350 people. This affects both diplomatic staff in the embassy and the general consulates, as well as cultural mediators, i.e. employees at German schools and Goethe Institutes – both German and local employees.
“Step of escalation” of Moscow
Moscow had “taken a step towards escalation,” said the foreign ministry spokesman. “This unjustified decision is forcing the German government to make very significant cuts in all areas of its presence in Russia.” Therefore, the four consulates-general mentioned would have to shut down their work and stop completely by November. The embassy in Moscow and the consulate general in Saint Petersburg remained open.
The aim of the federal government is to enable “a minimal presence” of cultural mediators and at the same time to maintain the diplomatic presence. As a “reciprocal measure” to the Russian approach, the spokesman said that four of the five Russian consulates general in Germany should be closed by the end of the year.
It is not yet clear which consulates will be closed
Russia operates consulates general in Germany in Bonn, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Leipzig and Munich. According to the foreign office spokesman, it is still unclear which four will be closed. There are talks with the Russian side.
Diplomatic representations greatly thinned out
In the course of tensions in the past, Germany and Russia have repeatedly expelled each other’s diplomats. The representations have already been severely thinned out and the services shut down. The situation worsened significantly with the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
In April last year, Russia declared 40 German diplomats “undesirable persons” and thus ordered their expulsion. The number was equivalent to about a third of the German diplomatic corps in Russia. This, in turn, was a reaction to the expulsion of 40 Russian diplomats at the beginning of April 2022, who, according to Berlin, were said to have acted as spies in Germany.