North Macedonia orders expulsion of five Russian diplomats

The Balkan country gives five Russian diplomats five days to leave its territory, saying they violated diplomatic norms.

A man waves Russian flag during a rally in front of the Russian Embassy in Skopje, North Macedonia
A man waves a Russian flag during a rally in front of the Russian Embassy in Skopje in 2018 [File: Boris Grdanoski/AP]

North Macedonia has ordered the expulsion of five Russian diplomats from the country, according to its foreign ministry, following a string of similar moves made by the United States and several European Union member states.

The Balkan country’s foreign ministry said on Monday that the individuals had five days to leave its territory, adding that they violated diplomatic norms.

“The listed [diplomats] were executing activities which are contrary to the Vienna Convention for diplomatic relations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday, referring to the international treaty that includes agreements related to diplomatic protocols.

“There will be an adequate response” from Russia to North Macedonia’s decision, Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing a source in the Russian embassy in Skopje.

The incident marks the latest expulsion of Russian diplomats from Western countries following a string of similar moves made in the US, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and other Baltic states earlier this month.

North Macedonia has expelled Russian diplomats on three earlier occasions in recent years in the wake of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the English city of Salisbury, which Britain blamed on Moscow.

Following the invasion of Ukraine last month, North Macedonia has followed the EU’s lead in sanctioning Moscow, with officials in Skopje labelling Russia a “hostile state”.

In March 2020, North Macedonia became the latest member of the NATO alliance, after the country added the geographical qualifier “North” to its official name to distinguish it from the Greek province of Macedonia.

Russia’s move against Slovakia

Also on Monday, Russia expelled three Slovakian diplomats in a tit-for-tat move after Bratislava expelled three Russian diplomats for espionage earlier this month.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had summoned Slovakia’s ambassador to Moscow and told him three diplomats were now persona non grata “as a retaliatory measure”.

Moscow also complained of “obstacles” for Russian overseas agencies in Slovakia and “threats to their safe functioning”.

Slovak authorities said on March 15 that they had decided to expel three Russian diplomats following information from intelligence services.

Bratislava also said that it had charged two citizens with spying for Russia, after they allegedly passed on highly sensitive intelligence to Moscow concerning NATO and Ukraine.

Source: News Agencies