Russian diplomats spurned in Europe’s capitals | Inquirer News

Russian diplomats spurned in Europe’s capitals

/ 10:35 AM May 12, 2022

 Russian diplomats spurned in Europe’s capitals

Sergiy Andreev, Russian Ambassador to Poland, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Russian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland April 19, 2022. REUTERS

WARSAW/VILNIUS — Russian diplomat Sergiy Andreev was feeling unwelcome on the streets of Warsaw even before protesters doused him with red liquid thrown in his face at short range this week.

Soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Andreev, who is Moscow’s ambassador in Poland, found the embassy bank accounts had been frozen. Attempts to meet with Polish officials for any level of diplomatic discussion were impossible, he said.


His regular barber refused to cut his hair. Insurance companies denied coverage for embassy cars, Andreev said.


“We are practically isolated,” he told Reuters, before the paint incident on Monday, which has prompted Russia to demand an apology from Poland or risk facing unspecified further steps.

Across Europe’s capitals, Russian diplomats are getting the cold shoulder, ranging from diplomatic expulsions by governments, to protests by individual citizens, and service denials by companies.

European Union governments have expelled at least 400 Russian diplomats and support staff. Warsaw has seized a building linked to the Russian embassy, and Oslo renamed a street in front of the Russian mission “Ukraine Square.”

Russia’s 10-week bombardment of Ukraine has killed thousands, driven over a quarter of the population from their homes and flattened towns. Europeans widely see it as unprovoked aggression by President Vladimir Putin, who says what he calls a special military operation was launched to defend Russia.

Western nations have responded by arming Ukraine’s military and imposing sweeping sanctions on Russia’s elites and financial system.

The diplomats’ tribulations are not comparable to the destruction of the war or the broader Western response, but they are a conspicuous example of the depth of feeling against the invasion, and have hit home in Moscow.


Public protests have prompted Russia’s foreign ministry to warn diplomats to think twice when they venture out, after embassies were defaced by red paint in Rome, Sofia and Prague. In London, protesters piled cookware and appliances in front of Russia’s mission in April, in reference to reports of Russian looting in Ukraine.

“There are attacks, practically terrorist acts against our institutions and against the physical security of diplomats,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Rossiya 24 television.

“Now we do not recommend they go out” alone, said Lavrov, calling the anti-Russian atmosphere stoked by the West discriminatory.

Russia demands diplomats’ safety

In Poland, Andreev was at Warsaw’s Soviet Military Cemetery on Monday to lay flowers to mark the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany when he was surrounded by protesters – some holding Ukrainian flags and chanting “fascists” at the Russian delegation – before a woman hurled a lumpy red liquid into his face.

On Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry demanded a formal apology from Poland and that the safety of its diplomats and staff in Poland be ensured, warning of unspecified further steps “depending on Warsaw’s reaction to our demands.”

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said authorities had warned Andreev that attending the cemetery on Monday risked provoking an incident, but emphasized that diplomatic representatives of foreign countries are entitled to protection regardless of disagreements over policies.

Speaking to Reuters in April, Andreev said Poland had breached the Vienna Convention that specifies rules for hosting diplomats.

Swiss police told Reuters last month there have been “expressions of displeasure, threats and damage to property towards the Russian embassy”, and police made unspecified security adjustments. In Bucharest, a driver died ramming his car into the gate of the Russian embassy on April 6.

As in Warsaw, the Russian embassy in Paris has been running low on cash, with Moscow instructing diplomats there to cut spending to a minimum, according to a diplomatic source from a country that has not imposed sanctions on Russia and continues to engage with the embassy. The embassy declined to comment.

In Lithuania, two main banks have or will cut money transfers to and from Russia and Belarus, and, like in Poland, insurance firms have refused to insure embassy cars.

“They are not insuring damages for the Russian embassy,” said Andrius Romanovskis, chair of Lithuanian Insurers Association. “My understanding is these decisions are not of commercial nature, but have to do with reputational and moral choices.”

The Russian embassy in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius confirmed its troubles.

“The embassy has recently been facing a number of problems in the banking and insurance sector, as well as with the fulfilment by certain companies of their obligations under existing contracts,” said press secretary Alexander Kudryavtsev.

Czech capital Prague changed the embassy’s street name to “Ukrainian Heroes’ Street” while the district where the Russian embassy is based has requested that a Russian school building, unused since the Czechs expelled dozens of Russian diplomats, be made available for Ukrainian refugee children.

The measures have led to some retaliation from an increasingly isolated Russia, which has kicked out an unspecified number of European diplomats.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said streets have been dug up around its embassy in Moscow, and the work of the embassy and its consulates was “restricted in every way by the Russian side.”

Russia’s foreign ministry did not reply to a request for comment.


Inside a Ukraine hospital where medics work as rockets fall

US House passes $40 billion bill to bolster Ukraine against Russian invasion

War in Ukraine: Latest developments

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Russia ready for ‘long war’ in Ukraine, US warns

TAGS: Diplomacy, Europe, Poland, Russia, War

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.