Russia announced on Thursday that it would close the Finnish consulate in St. Petersburg and expel nine diplomats, saying the move was a response to a “confrontational anti-Russian policy” pursued by Helsinki.
Finland, the newest NATO member that shares a border with Russia, expelled nine diplomats working at the Russian embassy in Helsinki earlier this month for acting in an “intelligence capacity”.
“Nine employees of the Finnish Embassy in the Russian Federation and the Finnish Consulate General in St. Petersburg have been declared persona non grata,” the Finnish foreign ministry said in a statement, calling the move a tit-for-tat response.
“As part of the response to the counteraction of the Finnish authorities, the Russian side has decided to withdraw its consent to the activities of the Finnish Consulate General in St. Petersburg as of October 1,” the statement added.
Relations between the neighbors soured after Russia launched a massive military operation in Ukraine.
The hostilities prompted Finland to break with decades of military non-alignment and apply to join NATO in May 2022, officially becoming a member in April.