Spying is far from the only ‘action incompatible with diplomatic status’

World War III: Putin's hybrid war conducted by Russian spy services and propaganda journalism in an effort to corrupt Western democratic institutions

World War III: Putin's hybrid war conducted by Russian spy services and propaganda journalism in an effort to corrupt Western democratic institutions 

Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Tallinn has not yet provided an official explanation for its decision to expel two Russian officials from Moscow’s consulate in Narva, but Estonian experts say that such actions are typically taken because the officials involved are engaged in espionage, “an action incompatible with diplomatic service.”

There is no question these officials may have been engaged in spying given Moscow’s interest in Estonia’s defense programs and especially in NATO forces exercising there. But it is important to recognize that in the case of Russian missions in the former Soviet space – and not just there – spying may be far from the most serious violation of the rules governing the actions of diplomats.

That is because, as Estonian and Lithuanian security agencies have pointed out in the past, roughly a third of all Russian “diplomats” in the Baltic countries have links to Moscow’s security services, with many not only spying but working to undermine these states.

Among these activities are active involvement with the Russian-speaking community there. Indeed, an article in Moscow’s Komsomolskaya Pravda yesterday suggests that such activities may be the real reason the two Russian officials in Narva were expelled.

Estonia has compiled an impressive record in identifying and expelling Russian officials who violate the rules of diplomatic practice not only by spying but by working against the Estonian government. Lithuania and Latvia have also stepped up their monitoring of Russian diplomats but have not expelled them.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Mephisto

    it goes without saying that russian diplomat = russian spy. We should expel all of them, close the Russian embassies and send them home

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      At the very least the number of embassy staff should be restricted to the same number that the host country has in Moscow. If, say, the Canadian embassy in Moscow has a staff of 60, then the Dwarfstanian embassy in Ottawa should be restricted to 60 tops. Ditto for consulates of course. If the Dwarfstanian embassy has more staff than the host country has in Moscow then you can bet all your worthless rubbles that the “surplus” are spies, whether GRU, FSB or other.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    “Lithuania and Latvia have also stepped up their monitoring of Russian diplomats but have not expelled them.” Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “have not expelled them YET.”
    I don’t know whether it is currently common EU and/or NATO policy to automatically blacklist any Dwarfstanian “diplomat” or “trade representative” etc who is expelled from a member country for “activities incompatible with diplomatic/trade duties” but if it isn’t it should be. It is patently absurd to allow a “diplomat” who has been expelled for such activities from, say, Estonia to be accepted in another EU or NATO country e.g. Germany or Canada. Also, those expelled from Japan, Australia, New Zealand etc should be put on the blacklist.

  • Oknemfrod

    >roughly a third of all Russian “diplomats” in the Baltic countries have links to Moscow’s security services<

    To the point of Mephisto's earlier post, 1/3 is a huge understatement. Having their "diplomats" under a direct tutelage of the KGB, FSB, and whatever the agency had been called before that is an unwavering Soviet/Russian tradition. To the operators in the Kremlin, sending "diplomats" abroad without charging them with "special duties" is utter nonsense. They feel internally justified based on their deep conviction that honest people don't exist and "everybody does that" (just like "everybody lies", everybody steals", etc.) and expect the countries where they have "diplomatic" missions to accept their spying activities with unvoiced "mutual understanding" that it's the name of the game. That's why they appear so aghast every time when their "diplomats" get expelled.

  • zorbatheturk

    RuSSia’s main export business is spies and lies.