Russian authorities have notified the Norwegian embassy in Moscow that ten Norwegian diplomats are unwanted. This happened after 15 Russian diplomats received their travel documents from the Russian embassy in Oslo. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls the deportations an act of revenge.

Our ambassador in Moscow has today been informed by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that ten of our diplomats at the embassy in Moscow have been declared undesirable in Russia. They must leave Russia within a short period, says a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry Ragnhild H. Simenstad in an email to NTB.

The Russian Foreign Ministry calls the deportations a “retaliatory measure”.

Norway’s ambassador to Russia Robert Kvile was awarded a letter in which ten representatives at the Norwegian embassy in Moscow were declared “persona non grata”, says the statement, which the AFP news agency reproduces.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry will in no way accept that the Norwegian diplomats’ activity can be compared to that of the Russians.

We regard the Russian decision as an act of revenge. All our diplomats in Russia carry out ordinary diplomatic work. This is well known to the Russian authorities, writes Simenstad in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Norway’s decision to declare 15 people at the Russian embassy as undesirable in Norway is based on the fact that they have carried out intelligence activities under the guise of being diplomats. It is against the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, writes Simenstad.

Ambassador Robert Kvile is among those allowed to stay. He says the tone was pleasant when he was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry to get the message on Wednesday morning.

It would have been a big surprise if they responded in any other way, says Kvile to NRK about the Russian authorities. He adds that the meeting proceeded in a pleasant manner.

According to the national broadcaster, there were 19 Norwegian diplomats in Russia before ten of them were now declared undesirable. Some of them work at the embassy in Moscow, while some of them are based in St. Petersburg.

In April alone, Germany and other European states expelled a total of 200 Russian diplomats. The embassies are starting to be scrapped. The lines of contact become poorer and the possibilities for misunderstandings greater.

The Norwegian authorities have assured that their diplomats do not engage in espionage.

We have to believe them, says NRK’s former Moscow correspondent Jan Espen Kruse.

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