The leaders and foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and Sweden have prepared retaliatory measures in connection with Russia's decision to expel their diplomats from the country. This became known from the Politico and Deutsche welle articles.
Speaking in Paris and Berlin after a virtual meeting on security policy and cooperation, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel jointly criticized the decision of the Russian authorities regarding the staff of the embassies of Germany, Poland and Sweden, as well as the attitude of Russian President Vladimir Putin to oppositionist Alexei Navalny.
"I condemn in the strongest terms, from beginning to end, what has happened here — from the poisoning [of Navalny] to ... the expulsion of diplomats. I think diplomatic tensions cannot be solved in this way and I declare my solidarity with the three countries whose diplomats have been expelled," Macron said, adding that dialogue with Moscow was still important for "peace, security and stability" in Europe.
"I can only agree with this," Merkel said, adding: "We consider what happened to [Navalny] to be far from the rule of law. We condemn his imprisonment and now also the expulsion of diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden."
"We also ... reserve the right to continue sanctions [against Russia], especially against individuals," Merkel added.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the decision to expel diplomats further worsened Russia's relations with Europe. According to him, attending the protest action, the German diplomat "exclusively fulfilled his duty in relation to the Vienna Convention to obtain information about events in the country by legal means."
"If the Russian Federation does not reconsider this step, it will not remain unanswered," Maas added.
Earlier, Russia expelled three diplomats from the Swedish, Polish, and German embassies from its territory for participating in unauthorized protests on January 23.