MOSCOW, August 14. /TASS/. The Moldovan authorities' decision to reduce the number of Russian diplomats in the country will have consequences for relations between Moscow and Chisinau, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
It said that employees of Russian diplomatic missions in Moldova and their families returned to Moscow on August 14, forced to leave the republic due to unfriendly moves by the Moldovan authorities.
"This unfriendly step of official Chisinau will undoubtedly have consequences for Russian-Moldovan relations, but first of all it will affect the residents of both countries, whose opportunities to receive timely consular assistance, as well as to maintain business and cultural ties will be significantly reduced," the ministry said in a statement.
It pointed out that "operating in reduced capacity, employees of the Russian embassy won’t be able for objective reasons to ensure the proper amount and timing of consular services." "Also, the activity of the trade mission and the Russian Center of Science and Culture in Chisinau will have to be limited," the ministry pointed out.
"The responsibility for this is entirely with the Moldovan leadership, which, within the framework of a large-scale anti-Russian campaign it unleashed, has made an unsubstantiated decision to significantly reduce the number of personnel of Russian foreign missions in Moldova," the Russian Foreign Ministry summed up.
Russian diplomats and embassy staff who fell under the Moldovan government’s demand that Moscow reduce its diplomatic presence in Chisinau departed on Monday from Chisinau International Airport on board a Tu-214 aircraft operated by the Russia Special Flight Squadron.
"Forty-five embassy staff members have departed; together with their family members, it’s about 70 people. Everything went normally. Moldovan officials provided the necessary assistance," an embassy spokesperson said.
The expulsion of Russian diplomats was preceded by publications in Moldovan social and legacy media that raised alarms about the number of satellite antennas on the embassy building and accused Russian diplomats of espionage.
Later, the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration summoned Russian Ambassador Oleg Vasnetsov for an explanation. The Moldovan authorities informed Moscow’s envoy of the need to reduce embassy staff to ten diplomatic staff members and 15 administrative and technical personnel. Nicolae Popescu, Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, attributed the move to suspicion that Russian diplomats were involved in "unfriendly" activities, "espionage," and attempts to destabilize the political situation in the country. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that Moldova’s unfriendly step would not go unanswered.
Last October, Chisinau expelled a Russian embassy worker following the explosion of an unidentified missile on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry expelled a Moldovan embassy staff member.