Dutch Expel 10 Russian Diplomats, Shut St. Petersburg Consulate

The Russian Embassy in The Hague  Photographer: Robin Utrecht/AFP/Getty Images

The Dutch government ordered about 10 Russian diplomats to leave the country, saying Moscow has been using diplomatic cover for espionage.

The cabinet will also temporarily shut the consulate-general in St. Petersburg, Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a statement on Saturday. The government has ruled that there may not be more Russian diplomats in the Netherlands than Dutch diplomats in Russia, Hoekstra said. 

“Despite numerous attempts by the Netherlands to find a solution, Russia continues to try to get intelligence officers in the Netherlands under diplomatic cover,” Hoekstra said. “We cannot and will not allow that.”

The Russian diplomats will have two weeks to leave the Netherlands. 

Russia refuses to issue visas for Dutch diplomats to staff the consulate-general in St. Petersburg and the embassy in Moscow, Hoekstra said. “This is unacceptable and has led to an unsustainable situation,” he said.

In March, the Dutch government said it received information from its intelligence agency that people accredited as Russian diplomats in the Netherlands were acting as intelligence officers. That led the Netherlands to expel 17 Russian diplomats, prompting Moscow to expel 15 Dutch envoys in retaliation.

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