Four Russian diplomats, including two accredited to the United Nations in Vienna, will be expelled by Austria, a rare decision in this neutral country traditionally close to Russia before the invasion of Ukraine.
They acted “in a manner incompatible with their diplomatic status,” the foreign ministry said Thursday in a statement sent to AFP.
“These people are invited to leave the territory no later than February 8,” added the government, which did not specify what they were accused of.
Russia has an important diplomatic mechanism in Austria at the bilateral level, but also to represent it at the UN as well as at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Experts have considered since the Cold War that Austria, a central European country of 9 million inhabitants, is a privileged place for international espionage.
Diplomatic expulsions are rare.
Austria thus distinguished itself from Britain and a majority of European states in March 2018 when it refused to expel Russian diplomats in retaliation after the alleged poisoning in the Kremlin of the former spy Sergei Skripal.
She had expelled a Russian diplomat accused of espionage in August 2020, a first in the history of this state which sees itself as a bridge between East and West.
She then returned four others in April 2022 as part of a coordinated reaction by European countries after the discovery of the massacre in Boutcha, a suburb of Kyiv that has become a symbol of the brutality of Russian forces.
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