The Netherlands announces the closure of the commercial section of the Russian embassy and the expulsion of diplomats, after accusations of espionage

Diplomatic sanctions. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Saturday February 18 the closure of the commercial section of the Russian embassy in Amsterdam as well as the expulsion of Russian diplomats. The Netherlands notably accuses Moscow of trying to send spies to the Netherlands.

“Despite many attempts by the Netherlands to find a solution, Russia continues to try to install, under diplomatic cover, intelligence officers in the Netherlands”Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a statement. “We cannot tolerate it and will not allow it.” Asked by public radio NOS, Wopke Hoekstra said he expected a dozen Russian diplomats to be expelled.

The Dutch consulate in Saint Petersburg will close

Russia also refuses to issue visas that would allow Dutch diplomats to work in the country. The Dutch Foreign Ministry has clarified that the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Saint Petersburg will close due to lack of staff.

Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began almost a year ago, the Netherlands expelled 17 Russian diplomats suspected of spying. There were 58 Russian diplomats left in the Netherlands at the time, according to Dutch media. In response, Russia expelled 15 Dutch diplomats. Since then, negotiations have been underway to assign new diplomats to both sides, but they have “so far failed”according to the Dutch government.

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