Russian diplomats get cold shoulder in European capitals – National

Russian diplomat Sergiy Andreev felt unwelcome on the streets of Warsaw, even before protesters doused him with red liquid from close range this week.

Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Andreev, Moscow’s ambassador to Poland, discovered that the embassy’s bank accounts had been frozen. Attempts to meet with Polish officials for any level of diplomatic consultation were impossible, he said.

His regular hairdresser refused to cut his hair. Insurance companies refused to cover embassy cars, Andreev said.

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“We are practically isolated,” he told Reuters, before the paint incident on Monday, prompting Russia to demand an apology from Poland or risk taking unspecified further steps.

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Russian diplomats are getting cold in Europe’s capitals, ranging from diplomatic expulsions by governments to protests by individual citizens and refusals of services by companies.

European Union governments have expelled at least 400 Russian diplomats and support personnel. Warsaw has seized a building connected to the Russian embassy and Oslo has renamed a street in front of the Russian mission “Ukraine Square”.

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The Russian 10-week bombardment of Ukraine has killed thousands, forced more than a quarter of the population from their homes and razed cities to the ground. Europeans generally see unprovoked aggression by President Vladimir Putin, who says what he calls a special military operation to defend Russia.

Western countries have responded by arming the Ukrainian military and imposing sweeping sanctions on Russian elites and the financial system.

The diplomats’ tribulations cannot be compared to the destruction of war or the wider Western response, but they are a striking example of the depth of feeling against the invasion and have made their homecoming in Moscow.

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Public protests have prompted Russia’s foreign ministry to warn diplomats to think twice if they venture, after embassies in Rome, Sofia and Prague were defaced with red paint. In London, protesters piled up cookware and appliances for the Russian mission in April, citing reports of Russian looting in Ukraine.

“There are attacks, practically terrorist acts against our institutions and against the physical security of diplomats,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Rossiya 24 on television.

“Now we don’t advise them to go out alone,” Lavrov said, calling the anti-Russian atmosphere fueled by the West discriminatory.


In Poland, Andreev was at the Warsaw Soviet Military Cemetery on Monday to lay flowers on the occasion of the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, when he was surrounded by protesters – some carrying Ukrainian flags and chanting “fascists” at the Russian delegation – for a woman threw a lumpy red liquid in his face.

On Wednesday, Russia’s foreign ministry demanded a formal apology from Poland and that the safety of its diplomats and personnel in Poland be guaranteed, and warned of unspecified further steps “subject to Warsaw’s response to our demands”.

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Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said authorities had warned Andreev that attending the cemetery on Monday could cause an incident, but stressed that diplomatic representatives from abroad are entitled to protection regardless of policy differences.

Speaking to Reuters in April, Andreev said Poland had violated the Vienna Convention, which specifies rules for receiving diplomats.

Swiss police told Reuters last month that there have been “expressions of displeasure, threats and damage to property against the Russian embassy”, and the police have made unspecified security changes. On April 6, a driver was killed in Bucharest by driving his car into the gate of the Russian embassy.

As in Warsaw, the Russian embassy in Paris is running out of cash, with Moscow instructing diplomats there to keep spending to a minimum, according to a diplomatic source from a country that has not imposed sanctions on Russia and continues to cooperate with the government. embassy . The embassy declined to comment.

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In Lithuania, two major banks have stopped or will stop remittances to and from Russia and Belarus and, as in Poland, insurance companies have refused to insure embassy cars.

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“They do not insure damage to the Russian embassy,” said Andrius Romanovskis, president of the Lithuanian Association of Insurers. “It is my understanding that these decisions are not commercial in nature, but have to do with reputation and moral choices.”

The Russian embassy in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius confirmed its problems.

“The embassy has recently faced a number of problems in the banking and insurance sector, as well as with certain companies’ compliance with their obligations under existing contracts,” said press secretary Alexander Kudryavtsev.

The Czech capital Prague has changed the embassy’s street name to “Ukrainian Heroes Street”, while the district where the Russian embassy is located has requested a Russian school building, unused since the Czechs sent dozens of Russian diplomats out of the country, at their disposal. for Ukrainian refugee children.

The measures have led to some retaliation from an increasingly isolated Russia, which has expelled an unspecified number of European diplomats.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said streets had been dug around the embassy in Moscow, and the work of the embassy and its consulates was “limited in all respects on the Russian side”.

The Russian Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Andrius Sytas; Additional coverage by John Irish in Paris, Jan Lopatka in Prague, Guy Faulconbridge in London, Terje Solsvik in Oslo, Michael Shields in Zurich, Angelo Amante in Rome; written by Jan Lopatka; edited by Frank Jack Daniel)

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