Russian Ambassador to Tallinn Vladimir Lipayev has confirmed that he will leave Estonia no later than February 7 following Moscow’s move to downgrade diplomatic relations with the Baltic country.
"It is standard diplomatic practice. When diplomatic relations are downgraded, ambassadors need to leave the respective countries in due course. There is a mutual understanding that February 7 is the deadline. It means that I will leave the country no later than February 7 and my Estonian counterpart will do the same," the diplomat told the Soloviev Live TV channel on Tuesday.
The Russian foreign Ministry stated on Monday that Moscow was downgrading diplomatic ties with Estonia in response to a significant reduction in the number of the Russian embassy personnel in Tallinn and amid an overall deterioration of relations. The Estonian ambassador was ordered to leave Moscow by February 7.
The Estonian Foreign Ministry said later that Russian Ambassador to Tallinn Vladimir Lipayev would have to leave the country simultaneously with Estonian envoy Margus Laidre’s departure from Moscow. Estonian top diplomat Edgars Rinkevics also wrote on Twitter that the country would downgrade diplomatic relations with Russia on February 24.