BERLIN (AP) — Russia will start expelling German diplomats, teachers and employees of German cultural institutions next month — a move that will further enhance tensions between the two countries that have already had very fraught ties since Russia invaded Ukraine early last year.
The German foreign ministry sharply criticized Russia’s move, calling the upcoming expulsions a “unilateral, unjustified and incomprehensible decision.”
The expulsion will affect several hundred German state employees, including teachers and staff of the Goethe Institute, which promotes German culture and language abroad, daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.
The expulsion comes in response to the reduction of the presence of Russian intelligence services in Germany earlier this year.
“The Russian Foreign Ministry had made public in April its decision to introduce a cap on the number of staff at our missions abroad and at German intermediary organizations in Russia,” according to the German Foreign Office.
The expulsions will lead to “a major cut in all areas of our presence in Russia,” according to the ministry.
Germany did not announce any concrete response to Russia’s expulsions, which are expected to begin next week, but the Foreign Office said that “with regard to the upper limit on the Russian presence in Germany, the German government will ensure that there is a real balance in practice as well.”