The Spanish Embassy in Moscow. / PHOTO: AFP / VIDEO: EP

Russia gives 27 Spanish diplomats a week to leave the country

The tit for tat move follows Spain’s decision to expel the same number of Russian diplomats from Madrid which was based on "duly justified security reasons, which is not the case on this occasion"

RAFAEL M. MAÑUECO Moscow

As expected, Moscow has responded to the expulsion of 27 employees of the Russian embassy in Spain, by expelling the same number of Spanish diplomatic staff from Russia.

The head of the Spanish Embassy in Russia, Marcos Gómez Martínez, was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday morning to receive the official notice that 27 of his employees must leave the country within seven days.

Spain, along with the rest of the European Union, the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and other countries, adopted two packages of sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, whose measures included the expulsion of diplomats. Since then, Moscow has been gradually responding in a reciprocal way.

The result of the expulsions puts Spain in a clear position of inferiority. Russia went from 49 diplomats to 22, while Spain, with a smaller delegation in Moscow, will only have the ambassador from now on. The additional problem is that most of the technical staff of the Spanish Embassy and Consulate in Moscow is made up of local Russian contractors, who sometimes tend to have preference when it comes to obtaining access places compared to those of Spanish nationality.

Both Marcos Gómez Martínez and his counterpart, Yuri Korchaguin, the Russian ambassador in Madrid, remain in their posts. However, the former will have very limited diplomatic activity while Korchagin will have a much greater margin of action. The impact of the expulsions in countries like Germany, France or Italy will be much less, since their number of diplomats in Russia is around a hundred, of which they lose less than half.

The government of Pedro Sánchez said the expulsion of Russian diplomats adopted in Madrid was based on "duly justified security reasons, which is not the case on this occasion. The work of the staff of the Spanish Embassy has always fully respected the obligations set forth in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations".