Russia diplomats ordered out of Netherlands over spying concerns News
© WikiMedia (Markus Bernet)
Russia diplomats ordered out of Netherlands over spying concerns

The Dutch government said Saturday that around 10 Russian diplomats will have to leave the Netherlands due to their repeated attempts to employ intelligence officers in diplomatic missions.

The Netherlands is accusing Moscow of using diplomatic cover for espionage. Additionally, the Dutch cabinet will also close its consulate general in St. Petersburg, foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a statement on Saturday.

This announcement follows a diplomatic dispute that began shortly after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Wopke said that it is difficult to find a solution to the rift as Russia is continuously trying to place intelligence officers in Netherlands. He proceeded to state that this will no longer be entertained.

Furthermore, Russia refuses to issue visas to Dutch diplomats to staff the Netherlands’ consulate general in Saint Petersburg and the embassy in Moscow. The Netherlands has accordingly decided that the Russian Embassy in the Hague cannot have more diplomats than the Dutch Embassy in Moscow. In line with this, the Russian diplomats will therefore have two weeks to leave the Netherlands. The Russian trade representative in Amsterdam will also be closed from February 21.

Negotiations on visas for diplomats have lasted almost a year. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the Netherlands expelled 17 Russian intelligence officers in March 2022. In response, Russia expelled 15 Dutch diplomats. Since then, negotiations have been underway to deploy new diplomats on both sides.

The Russian Embassy in The Hague did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned its Dutch ambassador due to a multinational investigation that suggested President Vladimir Putin supplied the Buk anti-craft missile system that took down flight MH17.