The Hague (AFP/APP): The Dutch foreign ministry on Saturday announced the expulsion of several Russian diplomats and the closure of Russia’s trade mission in Amsterdam, accusing Moscow of using it for spying.
It was the latest development in a dispute over Russia’s failure to grant visas to Dutch diplomats to staff their embassy in Moscow and the consulate in Saint Petersburg.
Because of the lack of staff, the consulate will close on Monday, though the embassy will stay open, the statement added.
“Despite numerous attempts by the Netherlands to find a solution, Russia continues to try to get intelligence officers in the Netherlands under diplomatic cover,” Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in the statement.
“We cannot and will not allow that.”
At the same time, it was important to keep embassies open as a communications channel even with relations with Russia so strained, he added.
The Russian diplomats being told to leave have two weeks to leave the country, while Russia’s trade mission in Amsterdam had to be closed from Tuesday, the statement said.