Bulgaria urges Russia to withdraw diplomatic ultimatum with embassy closure threat

Bulgaria, an EU and NATO member, said on Tuesday it was expelling 70 Russian diplomatic staff over espionage concerns and had set a cap on the size of Moscow's representation as tensions between the two once close countries fractured over Ukraine. The move, announced by the foreign ministry and Kiril Petkov, the outgoing prime minister, was the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats by Sofia in recent years and would more than half the size of Moscow's diplomatic footprint in the Balkan country if it goes ahead.


Reuters | Updated: 30-06-2022 21:56 IST | Created: 30-06-2022 21:56 IST
Bulgaria urges Russia to withdraw diplomatic ultimatum with embassy closure threat

Bulgaria's outgoing prime minister on Thursday called on Russia to withdraw a diplomatic ultimatum sent after Sofia expelled 70 Russian diplomatic staff and to drop a threat to close Russia's embassy in the Balkan nation. Bulgaria, an EU and NATO member, said on Tuesday it was expelling 70 Russian diplomatic staff over espionage concerns and had set a cap on the size of Moscow's representation as tensions between the two once close countries fractured over Ukraine.

The move, announced by the foreign ministry and Kiril Petkov, the outgoing prime minister, was the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats by Sofia in recent years and would more than half the size of Moscow's diplomatic footprint in the Balkan country if it goes ahead. Russia's ambassador to Bulgaria on Thursday told Sofia in a diplomatic note to reverse the expulsions decision by midday on Friday, Bulgaria's foreign ministry said. If it did not, the ambassador, Eleonora Mitrofanova, said she would ask Moscow to consider closing its embassy there altogether.

Mitrofanova, who has called the Bulgarian expulsions an "unprecedented hostile step," was not immediately available for comment. Petkov in a statement urged Russia to keep diplomatic channels between Moscow and Sofia open despite the expulsions which he said would still leave Russia with 43 diplomatic staff versus only 12 for Bulgaria in Moscow. "We believe in the need for dialogue, for which diplomatic channels are key," said Petkov.

"For this reason, we ask the Embassy of the Russian Federation to withdraw the note submitted today. For the sake of the past and for the sake of the future, we must be able to take steps forward with mutual respect," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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