Austria and Russian Federation Exchange Diplomat Explusions

On March 13th, 2024, and February 2nd, 2024, the Austrian government expelled several diplomats from the country due to concerns over spying activities. On February 2nd, four Russian citizens were expelled and on March 13th, two were expelled. In both instances the Russians in questions were “engaged in acts incompatible with their diplomatic status” and were declared “personae non gratae.” In both instances, the diplomats were given about 8 days to leave Austria.

Russian Expulsions

In response to these expulsions, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Austrian Ambassador Almhofer today. The Russian Foreign Ministry lodged a strong complaint with the ambassador and announced the explosion of two Austrian diplomats from Moscow. That announcement from Russian state-owned media reads below:

“On April 11, Austrian Ambassador to Moscow Werner Almhofer was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, to whom a strong protest was lodged in connection with the unjustified declaration by the Austrian side of persona non grata of two employees of the Russian Embassy in the Republic of Austria…It was emphasized that this unfriendly step further aggravates bilateral relations, which are in crisis at the initiative of the Austrian side, causes serious damage to the authority of Austria, which positioned itself as a neutral state and a platform for international diplomacy…the ambassador was handed a note with a notification that, as a retaliatory measure, the Russian side declares persona non grata an employee of the Embassy of the Republic of Austria in the Russian Federation, who must leave Russian territory by the end of the day on April 18…Our retaliatory measures do not end there.”

Historical Relations

This exchange is significant between the two nations which have traditionally enjoyed strong relations. When President Putin was elected to his fourth term in 2018, Austria was the first country he visited. President Putin has traditionally been a Francophile and spent several years as an agent in the KGB in East Germany. Austria has traditionally been a neutral country between the West and the Russian Federation, allowing for spy prisoner swaps on its territory.

However, beginning in August 2020, those relations began to sour when a Russian diplomat was expelled due to suspicions of industrial espionage, this was the first of such expulsions between the two countries.

In February 2022, Austria supported sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, but was still set on staying a neutral country, until President Putin added Austria to a list of “enemy countries” that supported Western sanctions. In April 2022, Austria expelled four Russian diplomats and then another four in February 2023, bringing the total since 2020 to nine. The Russian Federation did not respond through mirrored expulsions.

The expulsions this year bring the total number of Russian diplomats to 15, further demonstrating the degradation of Russian-European relations.

Tessaron
Tessaron
United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.

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