Russia expelling 10 Norwegian diplomats in tit for tat move

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Ten Norwegian diplomats in Moscow were ordered to leave Russia Wednesday, in what Oslo said was “an act of revenge” for its move this month to expel 15 Russian diplomatic staff for alleged spying.

Norway’s ambassador to Moscow was informed that ”10 of our diplomats at the embassy in Moscow have been declared undesirable in Russia,” Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ragnhild H. Simenstad said in an email. They must leave Russia “within a short time.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the ambassador had been summoned to protest Oslo’s decision to expel 15 Russian diplomats. The ministry added that it will take other measures in response to “unfriendly actions by Oslo,” including restrictions on hiring Russian personnel for the Norwegian diplomatic missions.

”We regard the Russian decision as an act of revenge,” Simenstad said, adding that Norway’s diplomats in Russia carry out ordinary diplomatic work.

On April 13, Norway said the Russians it was expelling were suspected of spying.

”Norway’s decision to declare 15 people at the Russian embassy undesirable in Norway is based on the fact that they have carried out intelligence activities under the guise of being diplomats,” Simenstad said.

On Tuesday, neighboring Sweden informed Russia that five employees of the Russian Embassy in Stockholm were asked to leave the country because they were suspected of spying. The Swedish foreign minister, Tobias Billström, said their activities were “incompatible” with their diplomatic status.

The public broadcasting companies of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have recently been reporting in a joint investigation that Russia was suspected of spying on the Nordic countries, and named intelligence officers allegedly working at the Russian embassies in Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo. The broadcasters also reported that Russians allegedly spied in the waters of the Baltic Sea and North Sea using civilian fishing trawlers, cargo ships and yachts.