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Luxembourg expels Russian diplomat

Luxembourg expels Russian diplomat

2 min. 06.04.2022
Grand Duchy's decision comes days after images and reports emerged of Russian war crimes in Ukraine
Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn
Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn
Photo credit: Guy Jallay

By Diego Velazquez and Yannick Lambert

Luxembourg has ordered the expulsion of a Russian diplomat from the country - following the example of its NATO and EU allies - after accusations of war crimes committed in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said on Wednesday.

"Luxembourg has decided today to declare a diplomat of the Russian Embassy in Luxembourg persona non grata, whose activities are contrary to the security interests of Luxembourg," Asselborn said in a statement on Wednesday. 

The diplomat, currently one of three from Russia in the country, has been ordered to leave Luxembourg within 15 days, Asselborn added.  

"The Luxembourg government is showing solidarity with the vast majority of EU states, which have also already taken such steps," Asselborn told the Luxemburger Wort.

The move is likely to be answered with a tit-for-tat against a Luxembourg diplomat in Moscow, as Russia has done previously in such cases. Asselborn justified this as a reason for the government's initial hesitation, saying that any such retaliatory move "will lead to the closure of all diplomatic channels".

After images emerged at the weekend of mass graves and reports of summary executions of unarmed civilians in the town of Bucha, carried out by the Russian army during their retreat, several European countries immediately moved to expel diplomats, including some on charges of spying.

On Monday, Germany and France ordered 40 and 35 diplomats to leave respectively, followed by expulsions from Italy, Denmark, Estonia, Sweden and Spain, amongst others. According to French press reports, France said that some of the diplomats work for the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency.

The European Union said on Tuesday it had also expelled 19 Russian diplomats from Brussels "for engaging in activities contrary to their diplomatic status". 

Luxembourg nurtured deep diplomatic and economic ties with Russia before its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. In 2019, former Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Luxembourg to strengthen business ties, with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel using the occasion to call for dialogue between the EU and its geopolitical rival. 

Bettel has before and throughout the crisis also urged to keep diplomatic channels open, and he has had two phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the start of the invasion, asking for de-escalation and direct talks between Putin and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyi.

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