The German government said Wednesday that Russia had the right to replace the four diplomats Berlin is expelling as part of coordinated Western action against Moscow. Germany has given four envoys until Monday to leave the country, joining several EU partners, NATO and other allies in diplomat expulsions over the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.
A German foreign ministry spokesman said that Berlin had selected the four envoys to be expelled based on “links to intelligence services”, according to practice set out in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Asked whether Moscow could replace the four, the spokesman said “yes”, noting that the Vienna Convention did not include a provision to cap the number of diplomats at a country’s mission.
At least 25 countries have ordered out more than 120 Russia diplomats in response to the March 4 attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.