Questions that arose after the expulsion of French diplomats from Russia

the focus In response to the expulsion of its agents in April, Moscow on Wednesday ordered 34 French diplomats to leave Russian territory within two weeks.

For employees of the French Embassy in Moscow, the Kremlin’s decision was not surprising. After a meeting with the French ambassador on May 18, Russia announced the expulsion of 34 French diplomats, ordered to leave the territory within two weeks. The response to the mid-April dismissal of 41 Russian agents in Paris, and the announcement came along with the dismissal of 24 Italian and 27 Spanish diplomats.

Since the beginning of the invasion in Ukraine, anti-diplomats against expulsions of diplomats between Europe and Russia have followed each other in waves, a process traditional in the customs and mores of international diplomacy.

What is a diplomatic expulsion?

In the diplomatic rules established by the Vienna Convention in 1961, a foreign diplomat can be declared at any time Unwanted person by the country in which it is accredited. On the other hand, expulsion is outside the scope of international law. Concretely, the ambassador, who is summoned, is given a list of names with a deadline in days or weeks to leave the territory. The decision generally follows the scale of reciprocity.

Why is Russia responding so late to expel its customers?

This response from Moscow comes more than two months after the dismissal of 41 Russian diplomats accused by Paris of spying. It had responded much earlier to Germany (40 German diplomats were expelled on April 25) and Great Britain (23 British diplomats had been expelled on March 17). “It is difficult to know whether this delay was due to a reversal in the high places in the Kremlin or a simple bureaucratic timer.Jan de Gliniasti, director of research at Iris and a former ambassador to Moscow, explains. “We can also suppose, perhaps, a desire to protect political exchanges with France, as well as Italy and Spain.The delay was almost that.Not suitable for the three countries involvedThe former diplomat notes.

Why only 37 versus 41? This difference is proportional, according to Jean de Gliniasti, to the reduced workforce at the French Embassy in Moscow. “The Russian Embassy in Paris has much more diplomats than ours in Moscow, which has only about 80 diplomats.“.

Who are the diplomats involved?

On the French side, the dismissals mainly affect clients of the regional economic services, but also affect the Chancellery (the ambassador’s staff) and the military mission. Defense Attache is not concerned nor the Consulate. “The list was almost certainly drawn up internally, by the French embassy itself, before the Russians reformulated it to their liking.“,” entrusted to figaro Diplomatic source in Moscow. For example, the accessory responsible for aviation, a sector subject to European sanctions, appears in the list according to the worldbut not its counterpart responsible for space cooperation.

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Why the Elysee considers the decision illegitimate?

The decision of the Russian authorities has no legal basis‘, replied on Wednesday to the Quai d’Orsay. However, didn’t France itself return about 41 agents working under diplomatic cover in mid-April? Sure, but these had espionage activity, then it was confirmed at the Elysee. Their identification was said to have been the result of A long investigation by the Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI) responsible for counterintelligence.

With regard to its agents, Paris asserts that “On the other hand, the work of diplomats and employees of our embassy in Russia falls fully within the framework of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.“.

Can an eviction be refused?

Spain said in a statement in response to Moscow’s decision on May 18:to refuseThis parcel. “Technically, I don’t see how I would challenge such a decision.Jan de Gleniasti commented, noting that a diplomat could only perform his duties from the moment he obtained the approval of the local authorities, via the famous Letter of Credit. In this regard, the Vienna Convention clarifies in Article 9 that “If the sending State refuses to implement or fails to implement within a reasonable time»advertisement Unwanted personthe receiving country will simply refuse.”To identify the person concerned as a member of the mission“.

Is this initiative new?

The diplomatic expulsion between the Franks and Russia is not new. The last history of the Skripal case dates back to 2018, this former Russian agent who took refuge in London and was mysteriously poisoned with Novichok. At that time, four Russian diplomats were expelled. “Expulsion orders are more common than you might think in diplomatic life. However, most of it is carried out discreetly to maintain political ties. A decision takes on a completely different character when it comes with strong public repercussions‘ explains Jan de Gliniaste.

However, the mutual expulsions in the course of the war in Ukraine are unprecedented in their scale, and they have not been seen since the farewell affair in 1983. Then a double agent in Russia presented France with a list of about fifty Russian agents, all of whom were loudly expelled. the noise. “President François Mitterrand gave the case the echo needed to give a pledge to Americans, worried about the strong presence of the Communists in his government.confirms the researcher at Iris.


see also Ukraine: Several Russian diplomats with the European Union declared persona non grata.

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