Although we expected today’s step, it is in no way justified. The 40 members of the Russian missions in Germany whom we expelled three weeks ago had not worked as diplomats for one single day while in Germany. Rather, these individuals had striven systematically for years to undermine our freedom and cohesion in our society. What is more, their work posed a threat to those who sought refuge in our country. We could no longer tolerate that and we will not tolerate it in the future.
Our staff members, my colleagues at the Federal Foreign Office who are now being expelled from Russia, on the other hand, have done nothing wrong. Despite the ever more adverse circumstances there, they went to Russia with openness, interest and great commitment to serve our bilateral relations. Russia has thus inflicted further damage on itself with the expulsions announced today.
During the last few days, I have spoken to the teams at the German missions in Russia about the expected steps and the foreseeably hard consequences for them. We will provide all the support we can for the staff members affected and their families in this difficult personal situation with all the challenges it brings for them.